A group of men are being hailed as heroes after they entered treacherous waters to rescue a man in trouble at Austinmer Beach on Saturday night.
The man was swimming at the beach about 8.40pm when he was dragged around the back of the rock pools by a rip current.
The Mercury understands his partner and her 14-year-old daughter entered the water in a bid to save him, and the woman was able to keep him afloat as long as possible before help arrived.
Life Saving Illawarra duty officer Anthony Turner said two or three surfers were attending a party at Austinmer Surf Club when they heard a commotion on the beach.
"The men heard yelling and paddled out in the darkness," he said.
"They pulled the man onto a board and brought him back to safety.
“They are very lucky (the men) risked their lives to enter the water.”
The woman and girl were reportedly able to make it back to shore on their own, where multiple ambulance crews and police were in attendance.
Paramedics treated the man, who had taken in a lot of water, before transporting him to Wollongong Hospital.
The woman and her daughter were also taken to hospital for observation.
Mr Turner said the incident highlighted the dangers of swimming at night in the ocean, when there is low to nil visibility and hazards such as rip currents and waves.
“Our message is simple: only swim at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags,” he said.