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RNLI Roker lifeguard highlights the dangers of no-swim zones

Lifeguards News Release

An RNLI Roker lifeguard rescued a woman on Saturday 17 July after she struggled to hold onto her paddleboard whilst swimming in the harbour.

A lifeguard sits on top of a rescue watercraft, more commonly known as a jet ski, in the sea. The waves are big and the lifeguard has a helmet on.

RNLI/Derry Salter

Lifeguard training on a rescue watercraft

At around 3:30pm, Roker lifeguard Andy Brown began patrolling Roker harbour on a rescue watercraft due to a strong offshore wind. Although the harbour is not usually a lifeguarded zone, the RNLI Roker team occasionally monitor the area as it becomes busy in the summer. The rest of the Roker lifeguards remained on the lifeguarded beach patrolling the area.

The harbour is an area where the river feeds out to the sea, so the water is a watercraft only zone. However, when the charity’s lifeguard reached the harbour, over 100 people were swimming in the water with toy inflatables.

After regarding the danger of the toy inflatables coupled with the strong wind, Andy remained on his watercraft in the harbour so he would be immediately on hand if any incidents occurred. Shortly after, a woman fell off her paddleboard into the water but Andy did not see the casualty re-surface for a significant amount of time.

The RNLI lifeguard worked with the Harbour Master to get the woman out of the watercraft zone, as she was struggling to mount her paddleboard. Andy took the woman back to shore on his rescue watercraft and gave her some safety advice after checking she had not sustained any injuries.

RNLI Roker lifeguard Andy Brown commented on the dangers of swimming in non-swim zones: ‘Luckily, I was patrolling the water nearby the harbour as our Roker team know that people frequently swim there. It is a particularly dangerous zone designated solely for watercrafts.

'If you are choosing to swim in the sea this summer, please visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. That way our lifeguards will be around to assist you if you should come into any trouble.’

To find your nearest lifeguarded beach, please visit: Lifeguarded Beaches - Find Your Nearest Lifeguarded Beach (

For more safety information please visit:

Notes to editors

RNLI Roker lifeguard service has been operating since 2001. To learn more about the lifeguarded beach go to:

Lead Lifeguard Supervisor Sean Mills is available for interview.

Photo Credit

RNLI/Derry Salter

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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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.

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