A lunchtime swim nearly ended in disaster on Monday after a woman was caught in a powerful rip before being rescued by lifeguards north of Brunswick Heads.
Two women believed to be in their 30s were swimming at New Brighton Beach when they got into difficulty shortly before 12:30pm.
One of the women was able to scramble back onto the bank and make her way to shore but the second was not so fortunate and was carried out almost 150 metres by a powerful current.
The first swimmer who had escaped the rip was able to raise the alarm by contacting emergency services, with the State Operations Centre notified of the incident shortly afterwards.
Lifesaving assets were immediately tasked to the scene including the Australian Lifeguard Service jetski from Byron Bay, the Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) from Brunswick Heads SLSC, the Far North Coast Support Operations jet ski, as well as police and paramedics.
Lifeguards were able to locate the woman and get her back to shore safely.
She was assessed by paramedics but did not require further treatment and emerged from her ordeal relatively unscathed.
Conditions at the time have been described as ‘potentially unstable’ with the moderate swell a challenge for swimmers.
Far North Coast Duty Officer Jimmy Keough praised the responding agencies for their prompt response, and said lifesavers are bracing themselves for a busy week
‘With the hot weather expected over the next couple of days our lifesaving assets are on standby for a busy time on our beaches.
‘We would like to encourage everyone thinking about making the most of the conditions to swim at Main Beach Byron Bay, Lennox, or Kingscliff which are the only three Far North Coast beaches currently patrolled by lifeguards during the week,’ Mr Keough said.
How to spot a rip current?
- Rips are complex, can quickly change shape and location, and at times, are difficult to see. The things to look for are;
- Deeper, dark-coloured water.
- Fewer breaking waves.
- A rippled surface surrounded by smooth waters.
- Anything floating out to sea or foamy, discoloured, sandy, water flowing out beyond the waves.
- Rips don’t always show all of these signs at once.
How to survive a rip current?
- Relax – stay calm and float to conserve your energy.
- Raise – raise your arm and attract attention from lifeguards or lifesavers.
- Rescue – the lifeguards or lifesavers will be on their way to help you.
- While floating, rip currents may flow in a circular pattern and return you to an adjacent sandbar
- You may escape the rip current by swimming parallel to the beach, towards the breaking waves.
- Reassess your situation. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try one of the other options until you’re rescued or return to shore