Missing swimmer on north coast, search underway
A SWIMMER has gone missing on the north coast on Saturday, prompting surf lifesavers to repeat warnings of dangerous conditions and pleading with the public to stay out of the ocean.
A hazardous surf warning remains in place for at least the next 24 hours with swells peaking over 3 metres expected along much of the NSW coast.
There are serious concerns for a 22-year-old swimmer who went missing after getting caught in a rip at Valla Beach, south of Sawtell on the state's north coast.
That search will resume on Sunday with lifesaving assets to assist in the operation led by NSW Police.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter liaison Roger Fry, said on Saturday they had been called to five separate water-related missions on the north coast.
"Fortunately each call-out has resulted in the helicopter rescue services not being required to assist," he said.
Mr Fry said they were tasked to Valla Beach for reports a number of swimmers were caught in a rip on Saturday.
NSW Lifesaving manager, Matt du Plessis said powerful surf conditions caused chaos on the coast with multiple swimmers getting into difficulty at beaches up and down the state.
Surf lifesavers are asking people not to ignore safety warnings after recording one of their busiest days of the season on Saturday. '
Despite the challenging swell the crowds were undeterred with the heat prompting many to flock to the beach.
Elsewhere a 15-year-old is recovering in hospital after being pulled from the water by lifesavers at Kiama Beach at around 3pm.
Two swimmers were rescued by surfers at Turimetta Beach, North Narrabeen, while a surfer was transported to hospital after swallowing water in an incident at South Narrabeen.
At Avoca Beach on the Central Coast there was a mass rescue carried out by lifesavers who utilised a jet ski and an inflatable rescue boat to pull 6 people from a rip current.
Beaches between the waters of the Lower North Coast through to the Queensland border in particular are likely to experience larger swells, but lifesavers are urging everyone regardless of where they are swimming to not get complacent.
Mr du Plessis said people should seriously question if they should enter the water.
"Please take note of the safety warnings and if you have any doubt whatsoever about your ability to handle the water it's better not to go in," he said .
"The red and yellow flags are there for a reason and we urge you to make that effort to swim there. We've had several instances of people being pulled from rips over summer so please take those few extra seconds to evaluate the conditions and to talk to the lifesaver or lifeguard on duty," Mr du Plessis said.
General Safety Tips during Hazardous Surf Conditions
· Avoid rock fishing and water activities on exposed beaches/rock-shelves
· Only swim at patrolled beaches, between the red & yellow flags. See www.beachsafe.org.au for patrolled locations/times
· Check the official Bureau of Meteorology forecast before undertaking rock fishing and water activities
· Boaties should seek advice from Marine Rescue NSW and always wear a lifejacket
· If witnessing an in-water emergency dial Triple Zero - Police