Volunteers from Sunderland RNLI were diverted from a training exercise on Sunday morning after being alerted to an incident opposite the National Glass Centre, were two people were said to be in the water.
The crew onboard the Atlantic 85 were called to the scene at 9.15am
A spokesman said: “Arriving five minutes later our crew discovered that the male had managed to recover himself from the water; but was unable to recover the female from the water.
“The female was quickly recovered onto the lifeboat where she was given a blanket to help her warm up.
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“After ensuring the male had made it safely ashore the lifeboat returned to the lifeboat station.”
The pair were both able to make their own way home after an assessment at the lifeboat station.
The RNLI stressed the importance of wearing life jackets after the incident.
The spokesman said: "This incident today could have had a totally different outcome had the casualties not being wearing fully functioning lifejackets. A lifejacket is useless unless worn and we hope that this incident acts as a reminder to everyone who takes part in activities on the water".
As a registered charity the RNLI relies on voluntary donations and legacies from the public for its income.
Its volunteer lifeboat crews provide a 24-hour rescue service in the UK and Ireland, and seasonal lifeguards look after people on beaches, including at Sunderland’s seafront.