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RNLI warns sea swimmers of dangerous rip currents after carrying out rescues on Cornish beach

The majority of RNLI lifeguard incidents involve rip currents in the UK. Photo: RNLI

A swimmer has been rescued by the RNLI after getting into difficulty in a dangerous rip current off the Cornish coast.

Lifeguards Cameron Wickins and Vinny Prescott were carrying out routine patrols in the rescue boat at Constantine when they noticed a swimmer struggling.

The man had drifted outside of the red and yellow flags on Saturday 23 July and was out of his depth when he got caught in the rip current.

We had been advising body boarders who had been drifting out quite far about the safest place to be when we noticed a tired looking swimmer in the rip current. He was struggling to get back into shore and did the right thing and signalled to us by waving one arm in the air. We got to him quickly and pulled him to safety. He was shattered, but very thankful we were there to help him.

– Cameron Wickins, Lifeguard

In the UK, the majority of RNLI lifeguard incidents involve rip currents. They are a major cause of accidental drowning on beaches all across the world.

Lifeguardsat Constantine are now reminding beachgoers about their dangers.

The best way to avoid rip currents, the RNLI says, is to choose a lifeguarded beach and always swim between the red and yellow flags, which have been marked based on where is safer to swim in the current conditions.

At Constantine at low tide and high tide strong rip currents can form, which is why we always advise people to swim between the red and yellow flags and not out too far. It’s peak season now and the beach is getting busy with locals and visitors. This kind of incident highlights how important it is to choose a lifeguarded beach. As RNLI lifeguards we are always happy to advise people about the local hazards at each beach. People can easily get out of their depth without realising it. It was a busy day and there were several other swimmers and body boarders who were rescued by lifeguards using the rescue board.

– Vincent Prescott, Senior Lifeguard

If you’re caught in a rip current, the RNLI’s advice is to:

  • Stay calm
  • Float on your back to regulate your breathing until you can swim to shore or call for help
  • If you can stand, wade, don’t swim
  • Keep hold of your board or inflatable to help you float
  • Raise your hand and shout for help
  • Never try to swim directly against the rip or you'll get exhausted
  • Swim parallel to the beach until free of the rip, then make for shore