Gwithian RNLI Lifeguards rescue two swimmers caught in a rip current

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI lifeguards spotted a woman getting into increased difficulty after entering the red river by Godrevy beach last evening. The Gwithian lifeguards were preparing to pack down the equipment when they had to rapidly launch both patrol vehicles towards an incident involving two swimmers

RNLI/Oliver Shilston

RNLI lifeguards involved in the rescue Barney Stevens (left) and Phil Wilson (right)

on the neighbouring beach.

On another beautiful day with an outgoing tide, Gwithian RNLI lifeguards spotted a woman about 50 meters out to sea caught in a rip current, unable to return to shore. She was ‘climbing the ladder’ and struggling to keep her head above the water. The woman had entered the water from Godrevy slip way, which is not a safe place to enter the water.

RNLI lifeguard, Barney Stevens, immediately grabbed a paddle board from the patrol vehicle rack and began paddling towards the female swimmer. He signalled to his colleague, Phil Wilson, that another paddle board was required immediately, to assist a man who had also entered the river. The man hadn’t seen the lifeguards approaching the incident so attempted to rescue the woman himself (his daughter). The man began to get into difficulty and was caught in the same rip current as his daughter, at the mouth of the river.

Both lifeguards paddled to the swimmers promptly and asked them to hold on tightly to the back straps of the paddle board, following Covid-secure procedures. Both father and daughter were safely towed back to shore and the lifeguards made them comfortable whilst running through post-rescue procedures. The lifeguards provided them with key safety advice and explained the strength and uncertainty of rip currents, especially at the mouth of the river. There is local hazard signage by the river stating the strong rip currents at red river and there are currently no RNLI lifeguards on duty at Godrevy Beach.

Yesterday brought another picturesque day with basking sunshine, light cross-shore winds and small waves, but the strength of the sea is always underestimated, especially at the mouth of a river.

RNLI Lead Lifeguard Supervisor, Oliver Shilston says, ‘The lifeguards reacted very quickly and managed to reach both swimmers before they began to submerge. The situation was time critical and with the rapid response from our lifeguards we believe two lives were saved yesterday.’

Although there are currently a handful of beaches with RNLI lifeguards on duty, the charity would like to reiterate how important it is to follow the beach safety advice. Anyone planning a visit to the coast should adhere to the following:

  • Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage

  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water

  • Do not allow your family to swim alone

  • Do not use inflatables

  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float

  • In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard

    Notes to editors

  • RNLI lifeguards are currently on duty across nine beaches: Gwithian, Fistral, Mawgan Porth, Polzeath, Constantine, Perranporth, Porthtowan and Widemouth in Cornwall, plus Croyde Bay in Devon

  • The RNLI is urging everybody to follow the beach safety advice and #bebeachsmart

  • Always swim between the red and yellow flags and ask the lifeguards for safety advice

    RNLI media contacts

    For more information please contact Becky Bright, RNLI Media Engagement Placement for the South West on 01736 753567 or Becky_Bright@rnli.org.uk. or Amy Caldwell, Regional Media Manager on 07920818807 or Amy_Caldwell@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively, please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or pressoffice@rnli.org.uk.

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.