PIC EXCLUSIVE: Dramatic Sunshine Coast surf rescue
A DRAMATIC rescue involving a tourist on the Sunshine Coast has given an early warning of the dangerous swells being whipped up by Queensland's big weather system.
The visitor was with a friend when he was swept off a sandbank in turbulent waters at Mooloolaba about 6.30am on Saturday.
The man, in his 20s, was super lucky in that lifesavers in an inshore rescue boat were just doing their first test run of the day.
Volunteer lifesavers on the beach, still setting up for the start of their patrol at 7am, also scrambled into action.
And to add to the man's luck it was the last day of proficiency tests for a swag of lifesaving volunteers, who were also on the beach.
Bronze medallion holder Aaron Hetherington was among the first to reach the visitor.
"A rip formed really quick and sucked both of them out,'' Mr Hetherington told the Sunshine Coast Daily.
"One of the guys was okay but his mate was in trouble.
"They both found themselves in trouble and signalled for help after a couple of minutes of thinking if they would be okay or not."
The better swimmer told the Daily his mate had been taken very quickly but they had just managed to get back onto the sandbank as the lifesavers arrived.
Mr Hetherington said the young visitor was lucky he had a friend to help and lifesavers around.
"He was pretty exhausted towards the end.
"He did take a couple of mouthfuls of water… but he was conscious the whole time and reactive."
"Once we got him into the recovery position he caught his breath.
"We had the advanced lifesavers come down with oxygen ready to go and ambulance on standby but he recovered quite well considering what he went through.''
"It's definitely building. It's going to get worse over the day and over the weekend.
"There's warnings everywhere about how dangerous it is going to become."
Mr Hetherington urged even experienced swimmers to take extra care.
"Stay in between the flags. Listen to the advice in between the flags and if in doubt don't (swim).''
He said swimmers should look out for patches where sand was swirling in the surf.
"There's a lot of movement. That sand swirling shows there's a lot of movement.
"That comes from a big groundswell and a lot of wind is going to come from the north.''