Swimmer saved from drowning by RNLI lifeguard at Treyarnon beach

Lifeguards News Release

On Saturday 19 August at 9.30am RNLI lifeguard Cameron Wickins was collecting the inflatable rescue boat to set up for the day’s patrols when a member of the public alerted him to a swimmer in distress and at risk of drowning after being caught in a rip current at Treyarnon beach, Cornwall.


RNLI lifeguard Cameron Wickins with the quadbike and inflatable rescue boat.

After the alarm was raised, he grabbed the rescue board and with the help of a local man he sprinted down to the shoreline, which was further away due to the low tide. On arrival he was unable to locate the casualty as he had stopped calling for help, so he quickly paddled out on the rescue board to try and find him.

Cameron soon spotted the swimmer’s head just above the water, between 200-300m from the water’s edge. While manoeuvring to the man’s location, he tried to communicate with him to encourage him to keep his head above the water. When he got to him it was clear that although conscious and breathing, he was very close to drowning and struggling to stay afloat.

He then transferred the man, aged 32, onto the rescue board and safely returned him to the shore, where the coastguard and paramedics were waiting after receiving a 999 call. The ambulance crew took over care of the man and transported him to hospital for further treatment.

Max Setti, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor, said: ‘Cameron’s quick thinking, skill and training enabled him to resolve a potentially deadly situation and ultimately he saved this man’s life.’

‘The out of hours rescue board bins have been used to great effect this season by off duty lifeguards and RNLI trained volunteers. They have been set up on the North Cornwall beaches to be used for emergencies, such as first aid and rescue incidents, when lifeguards are not on duty.'

RNLI safety message

Swimming in open water is very different to swimming in a pool. Unseen currents, cold water and waves make open water swimming more challenging. Even the strongest swimmers can tire quickly in the sea. You should:

  • Never swim alone.
  • Always swim between the red and yellow flags on a lifeguarded beach.
  • If you can’t make it to a lifeguarded beach, learn more about your chosen beach before you go and read local hazard signs.
  • Always swim parallel to the shore and not straight out. Cold water and currents can tire you out quickly and make it harder to return to shore.

If you are caught in a rip current you should:

  • Stay calm – don’t panic.
  • If you can stand, wade. Don’t try to swim.
  • If you have an inflatable or board, keep hold of it to help you float.
  • Raise your hand and shout for help loudly.
  • Don’t swim directly against the rip or you’ll get exhausted.
  • Swim parallel to the beach until free of the rip, then make for shore.

If you see someone in trouble in the water, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. Try to resist your instinct to go into the water to help; too many people drown trying to save others or their pets. Look for something that floats or that they can hold on to and throw it out to them.

You can find out more about how to stay safe in and around the water by visiting RNLI.org/RespectTheWater.

Notes to editors

  • Treyarnon beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards between 10am-6pm until 1 October.
  • The enclosed photos show RNLI lifeguard Cameron Wickins on Treyarnon beach with the quad bike and inflatable rescue boat. Please credit RNLI.
  • Rip currents are strong currents running out to sea. They can take you from the shallows very quickly and leave you out of your depth. They can catch even the most experienced beachgoers out, so don’t be afraid to ask lifeguards for advice. They will show you how you can avoid rips.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Amy Caldwell, Public Relations Manager (South), on 07920 818807 or Amy_Caldwell@rnli.org.uk . You can also contact Jade Dyer, Communications Student Placement, on 01752 854485 or by emailing Jade_Dyer@rnli.org.uk.


RNLI lifeguard Cameron Wickins on Treyarnon beach.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.