2

A wave, pushed by one behind it, slid so far up the slant of sand, their feet were delicately shocked and soaked. For a few seconds their ankles glittered in rippling sleeves of retreating water.

What are water sleeves?

5

A sleeve is not only a part of a shirt / clothing, but in a more figurative sense a sheath-like object that surrounds something.

In your example, the water flows around and possibly somewhat up the ankles of the persons described, forming "water socks":

http://cache3.asset-cache.net/gc/98324376-wave-feet-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&

source.

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