Reasons for drowning are most commonly associated with failure to stay afloat or swim to safety. Some evidence suggests that victims drown because they cannot exit the water upon reaching the water’s edge. College-aged physical education students (N = 37) completed a pretest survey of self-estimated capacity to exit the water under varied conditions. Participants were then tested in shallow water, deep water (flush edge), and deep water with a ledge (0.41 m) when fresh, after a 5-min swim in swimwear, in clothing, and while wearing a buoyancy vest. All participants were able to exit shallow and deep water when not fatigued, after a swim when wearing clothing or a buoyancy vest, but many failed to exit deep water over a 0.41 m ledge after swimming in clothing (35%) or in a buoyancy vest (49%). Significantly more females than males found exiting deep water difficult. Most participants (especially males) underestimated the demands of exiting deep water. The value of situational learning via exposure to exiting difficulties in simulated pool practices is discussed and recommendations about further research to enhance understanding of the challenges of exiting deep water to safety are suggested.