Lifesavers have pleaded with beachgoers to swim between the flags after a tragic start to the patrol season.
The appeal comes after a man was pulled unconscious from the water at Stanwell Park beach on Monday and couldn’t be revived.
The 24-year-old was swimming with two male friends at the northern end of beach – more than 500 metres from the patrolled area – when all three got into difficulty in a rip current about 1.30pm.
The man, understood to be an Indian national, was seen floating face-down in the water.
A number of surfers managed to pull the unconscious swimmer onto their boards and tried to administer CPR.
“They were all still caught in a rip and they were commencing CPR as the rip was taking them out to sea,” Surf Life Saving NSW boss, and Helensburgh-Stanwell Park surf club member, Steven Pearce told the Mercury.
An inflatable rescue boat, with volunteer lifesavers from the surf club on board, was dispatched and travelled about 700 metres to the scene.
The lifesavers pulled the stricken swimmer into the boat and maintained CPR.
The resuscitation efforts continued on the beach, where lifesavers were assisted by an off-duty doctor and bystanders. However, the man couldn’t be revived. His two friends were rescued by other surfers.
Mr Pearce said the incident was a difficult and challenging situation for all involved.
“It’s a local community, it’s a tight-knit community,” he said.
“The lifesavers, they knew the surfers; the surfers knew the lifesavers.
“The lifesavers on duty, two of them were a father and daughter team both performing CPR on this gentlemen.”
Mr Pearce also praised the surfers’ actions.
“It was just a selfless act,” he said.
“They’ve done it before in other circumstances and … this is where the surfing community and the surf lifesaving community are just so intertwined.
“[In] small communities like Stanwell Park, where everyone knows everyone, we’ll all be mourning together but we’ll also be looking after each other.”
The death came on the opening weekend of the 2018/19 patrol season.
Surf lifesavers have urged beachgoers to always seek out a patrolled location and swim between the flags.
“Our message this year is ‘you have to find a patrolled location if you’re swimming at a beach that you’re unfamiliar with and you have to understand your own swimming capabilities’,” Mr Pearce said.
“These gentlemen that were caught in this rip today [Monday], they were visiting ... [and were] fully-clothed as well.
“The message here is ‘if we can’t see you, we can’t save you’ and even though we had multiple lifesavers 700 metres away, on this particular instance this gentlemen’s life couldn’t be saved.”