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Despite the best efforts of a group of surfers, surf lifesavers, and emergency services a 24-year-old man has drowned after getting into difficulty while swimming at Stanwell Beach on Monday.

The man, understood to be an Indian national, was swimming with two friends at the northern end of the Illawarra beach and well outside of the flagged zone at around 1:30pm when the trouble began.

A group of about five surfers were in the vicinity when they noticed that the young man was clearly in trouble.

Thinking quickly, they pulled the unconscious swimmer out of the water, positioned him across a number of boards and attempted to administer CPR treatment. 

The State Operations Centre on Sydney’s Northern Beaches was informed of the incident by witnesses and was able to task volunteer surf lifesavers from Helensburgh-Stanwell Park who were patrolling nearby, as well as other emergency services, to respond. 

The lifesavers travelled the approximately 800 metres to the scene via the Inflatable Rescue Boat and pulled the stricken swimmer into their boat where CPR was continued.

Once they returned to the beach they were met by the remainder of the patrol who had brought rescue equipment including a defibrillator and oxygen to the scene. 

They were joined in the resuscitation effort by an off-duty doctor who was present on the beach.

Unfortunately the man was unable to be revived. 

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said it was a difficult and challenging situation for all involved.

“Everyone from the surfers who had the presence of mind to notice the swimmer’s difficulties and get him out of the water through to our wonderful volunteers and emergency responders reacted in a professional and compassionate manner.

“This is a tragic incident coming so soon after the opening of the 2018/19 patrol season, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the young man at this sad time,” said Mr Pearce.

Conditions on the beach at the time have been described as “relatively calm”.

The volunteer surf lifesavers from Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Surf Club involved in today’s incident will participate in a critical incident debrief.

Beach Safety Tips

  • Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website 

  • Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information

  • Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water

  • Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm

  • In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police

  • Don’t forget to be sun safe by remembering to: Slip on some protective clothing, Slop on some sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Slide on a pair of sunglasses, Seek some shade and Sip on lots of water to stay hydrated

  • For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App.


Monday 1 October 2018