Despite Illawarra beaches being flooded with sunbakers, swimmers and ocean sports enthusiasts on Sunday there was an absence of red and yellow flags, as Surf Life Saving clubs experience a "critical shortage" of volunteers.
Weekend temperatures soared more than 10 degrees above the September average, but unlike previous years, local clubs didn't have the manpower to be able to start the patrol season earlier than September 23.
Donna Wishart, from SLS NSW, has put out a desperate plea for volunteers across the Illawarra and emphasised not everyone had to perform risky rescues.
"We need people in all sorts of roles, not necessarily conducting rescues in the water, like first aid, radio communications, beach setup, nipper [assistants] or canteen duties," she said.
"As we are expecting a potentially very busy season with elevated temperatures, we are calling for more volunteers from the community ... there are some clubs that are experiencing critical shortages of volunteer lifesavers."
Last swim season there were nine coastal and ocean drownings for the Illawarra and South Coast (which includes Shellharbour and Kiama).
Volunteer Surf Life Savers alone were part of 95 emergency call outs, 43 incidents where an ambulance had to be called, and part of 618 rescues.
NSW emergency services put out alerts over the weekend for beach-goers to stay safe and be responsible during the hot temperatures.
As of 8.30am on Sunday, Wollongong had already reached 25 degrees while Albion Park was at 24.5 and Kiama at 23.7 degrees. Bellambi peaked at 30.4 at lunchtime, while Albion Park reached 31.5 degrees by 1.30pm.
The week ahead is set to bring a heatwave to the Illawarra, with Wollongong tipped to reach 35 degrees on Monday and Wednesday, plus 34 degrees on Tuesday. Albion Park and Kiama were both expecting similar conditions.
On Saturday the weather station at Bellambi hit 32.7 degrees at 2pm - more than 11 degrees hotter than the average September day of 20.1 degrees.
Shellharbour Council opened Beverly Whitfield Ocean Pool on Saturday, while Oak Flats Pool was also open, but have opted to open the rest of their pools and start patrols at the school holidays.
Wollongong City Council has advised North Wollongong beach is their only patrolled beach by paid lifeguards to be patrolled ahead of Sept (9am-4pm daily) until the official swim season begins on September 23 with the school holidays.
From then, all 17 of their beaches would see lifeguards back on patrol, while all pools would reopen also.
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