The search for a missing international student off Fairy Meadow Beach has been called off as rescuers faced dangerous weather conditions.
The 28-year-old University of Wollongong student was swimming with friends off Fairy Meadow Beach on Sunday, October 29 when he went missing.
He became caught in a rip and witnesses last saw him frantically waving his hand for help.
The man is an international student, however UOW have declined to confirm his nationality.
Six-foot swells were pounding the coast as surf life savers resumed the search at 8am on Tuesday, October 31, with crews battling to get out past the dumping waves.
"Conditions are quite hazardous and dangerous for our crews in shore work," Surf Life Saving Illawarra duty operations manager Anthony Turner said.
By midday rescuers were ordered off the water as large swells and strong winds buffeted the Illawarra.
It marked the third day searching for the missing man, with rescuers are conducting land, sea and air searches from Towradgi Point to Port Kembla.
A drone was used on Tuesday morning during the search to give crews "eyes in the sky" over the coast.
Life savers and council lifeguards had been searching the ocean closer to the shore, with NSW Police Marine Area Command and Marine Rescue NSW crews searching further off shore.
Wollongong Police acting Inspector Jayson Joerdens the chance of finding the man is "slim" after this many days.
"You've got to do as much as you can so the family can get that closure and so we can find him," he said.
Click on the photo below to see more pictures from the search
The man was wearing black swimmers and goggles at the time he entered the water.
A UOW said the university is providing support and counselling to staff and students affected by this incident.
While Fairy Meadow Beach is patrolled seven days, the time the man went swimming was outside patrol hours.
The beach remains closed.
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