Men accounted for more than three-quarters of all drownings in NSW this summer.
A total of 36 people died between December 2017 and February 2018, down from 41 the previous summer, according to data released on Wednesday.
Some 80 per cent of those who drowned were men. Almost half of those were in the risk-taking age group of 15 to 35-year-olds who were doing something they shouldn’t have been doing, Royal Life Saving NSW chief executive officer Michael Ilinsky says.
“They were putting everybody’s life in complex and difficult situations, usually influenced by alcohol, drugs or a thrill,” Mr Ilinsky told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
Coastal areas claimed 21 lives this summer while 14 deaths occurred at inland waterways such as rivers, creeks and dams.
There was just one backyard swimming pool drowning compared to six the previous summer.
The death toll includes three people who drowned after a Sydney Seaplanes aircraft crashed into the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney on New Year’s Eve.
The NSW emergency services minister said the three rock fishers who drowned weren’t wearing life jackets.
“For your own sake if you go rock fishing, wear a life jacket, it will save your life,” Troy Grant told reporters on Wednesday.
A high number of non-English speaking Australians and tourists found themselves getting into trouble across NSW waterways but Surf Life Saving chief executive officer Steven Pearce says it’s a myth the majority of people who drown are non-English speakers.
Male Anglo Australians account for the highest number of drownings, he said.
The 2017-18 summer was the first time lifesavers used drones in rescues, to spot dangerous rips and to evacuate beaches because of sharks with their use labelled “a resounding success”.