An Illawarra Surf Life Saving president is calling on the state and federal governments to provide more funding for additional lifeguards to patrol beaches across summer.
Sandon Point club president Ken Holloway said the safety message of "swim between the flags" was not resonating with all beachgoers and therefore lifeguards had to adapt their strategy to keep people safe.
From his decades of experience, Mr Holloway said people would swim closest to where they found a parking spot.
That's why he believes lifeguards and lifesavers need to patrol multiple locations along the beach. In order to do that, more funding for additional lifeguards is needed.
"If we have the manpower, we should keep an eye on the places where people are swimming even if it is outside the flags," he said.
Mr Holloway spoke out about the need for more funding after he assisted two young lifesavers rescue a woman caught in a rip, 600 metres away from the flags, at Sandon Point Beach late last year.
It also comes after a person drowned at a similar location three years ago.
The Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association, of which Mr Holloway is a member, has been campaigning for the reallocation of water safety funds.
"There is not enough manpower now," he said.
"State and federal governments need to step up to the plate and allocate funds to local government so more lifeguards can be employed.
"Councils can't bear the cost.
"The association is advocating for more paid lifeguards because we can't expect volunteer lifeguards to do more."
The lifeguards could then be deployed to watch over and patrol black spots, therefore improving response times and reducing the risk of drownings.
There were 276 drowning deaths in 2018-19 across the country, a 10 per cent increase from the previous financial year, the annual report from the Royal Life Saving Society found.
Mr Holloway said other council areas had changed how their lifeguards patrolled.
He said Gold Coast City Council and the lifeguards at Bondi Beach patrolled from towers in strategic locations so they could keep constant surveillance over all parts of the beach.
A Wollongong City Council spokeswoman said swimming between the flags in patrolled areas was the safest option.
"Council employs more than 90 staff annually across its 17 patrolled beaches six days a week and mobilises lifeguard staff to service unpatrolled areas with jetskis, all terrain vehicles and 4WD vehicles," she said.
"Surf Life Saving Illawarra provides a similar service through a service level agreement with Council which is delivered by its 17 volunteer clubs.
"We are closely monitoring the decline in volunteer members at some surf clubs and acknowledge the important role that surf clubs play in the provision of life-saving activities in the Illawarra."
Acting Minister for Police and Emergency Services Anthony Roberts said the state government was investing in government and non-government water safety partners to reduce drownings.
"We're investing in technology, swimming lessons, CPR training, school programs and our volunteers so people right across the state can safely enjoy our beaches, rivers and lakes," he said.
"We've provided $16 million to Surf Life Saving NSW to deliver new community engagement officers, 10 new emergency response beacons at coastal black spots and major operational support including jet skis, vehicle and equipment."
The minister and council's spokeswoman would not confirm whether more funding for additional lifeguards would be allocated or supported.