The Guardian reports:
Two swimmers have been rescued by helicopter after they were swept out to sea by a strong rip current in Cornwall. They were part of a group of five swimming off Holywell Bay where high winds and rough seas created treacherous conditions on Sunday despite the unseasonably mild weather.
The coastguard was called to the stretch of coast, about eight kilometres (five miles) from Newquay, at about 2.30pm by one of the group who managed to make it back to shore.
Two more swimmers made it to safety, leaving a further two struggling against the swell… A coastguard search-and-rescue helicopter was scrambled to the scene. Due to the time of year, there were no lifeguards on duty on the coast. All five of the group were then flown to Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske for medical treatment.
Emma Watkins from UK Coastguard warned beachgoers to beware of the dangers and not be fooled by the unseasonably mild temperatures.
“At this time of year, it is out of season. No lifeguards are on duty,” she said. “Whilst it may appear to look like a nice day it doesn’t mean the water is safe. We strongly advise people to check for warning signs.
“These swimmers had been part of a larger group visiting the beach.
“Thankfully one of the swimmers managed to raise the alarm.
“This serves as a reminder that the sea has hidden dangers and people should definitely think twice before entering the water.”
My comment: Would you know what to do if caught in a rip current?
This happened to me and my young son when on holiday in Cornwall. We had just arrived on holiday and went into the water in the life-guarded zone between the flags. Almost immediately a rip current began to drag us out to sea. I shouted to all the children nearby to get out of the water! We were bathing on Gwithian beach just below Sunset Surf. My son was about 10 years old and the water was only just up to my thighs. The pull of the water was irresistible and we were soon swept out to sea at great speed. I told my son not to worry, explained what was happening and said we had to choose either to swim left or right along the beach. Depending on where we were in the rip, if we picked the wrong direction we could have a very long swim back to the seashore. He chose to swam to the right and as it happened we must have been on the far left of the rip so by the time we escaped the waters pull we were a very long way out. At Gwithian the lifeguards sit in a lookout hut up on the dunes/cliff. We could see the lifeguard hurtling down the beach on his quad bike but by now were well on the way back to the beach. By the time the lifeguard reached us I was standing in the water but he insisted my son climb on the rescue board so the he could rescue him.
My conclusions? Knowing what to expect and what to do meant that far from being a frightening experience this was really quite educational.