Lifeguards kept busy in rough conditions at Byron
DANGEROUS conditions at a number of Byron Bay beaches are keeping lifeguards busy, and swimmers are being urged to take extra care.
On Sunday lifeguards conducted 10 rescues at Wategos Beach alone, making it second behind Bondi Beach for the most rescues in the state.
There were other rescues at The Pass and The Wreck.
Northern NSW Lifeguard co-ordinator Scott McCartney said the situation at Wategos became so problematic at the weekend that an extra lifeguard was called to sit out on the water on the rescue jet ski.
More than 1000 people a day visit Wategos, with more than 300 people on the beach at a time, making it very stressful for lifeguards.
"We were lucky over the first few weeks of the summer holidays with ideal swimming conditions," Mr McCartney said.
"But now we have a cyclone swell coming from the north.
"While the swell isn't overly big, there is a lot of water moving around, and it's a lot quicker.
"The waves are larger than what we've had.
"Because conditions have been so good, people weren't expecting this change.
"No matter how many times we say it, you need to ask the lifeguards every day about the conditions at the beach."
Mr McCartney said the sweep at Wategos had been the main problem.
Rips have been carrying swimmers out the north-western end of the beach and catching people off-guard.
"Unfortunately, people tend to panic," he said.
"That's when they get into trouble, because they use up all their energy.
"We are urging people to remain calm and signal for help."
And it's not just tourists that need rescuing - locals have been in the mix as well.
The rough conditions are expected to continue through the week.