Pictures show tough conditions as RNLI volunteers pull swimmer from sea

Photos shared by the RNLI have shown the tough conditions they faced as they helped rescue a swimmer swept out to sea off Sunderland.

Sunday, 6th December 2020, 1:23 pm
Updated Sunday, 6th December 2020, 1:25 pm

The 67-year-old man was one of two swimmers who became separated from a group of six at Roker, with the fifth able to get back to shore.

The others raised the alarm, with the Coastwatch helpers able to spot the missing man in the water after he was carried out between the piers at Roker.

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Sunderland RNLI said the man's orange floatation device helped them and other rescue workers spot him out a sea.

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He wast located quarter of a mile outside the piers at Roker by the helicopter thanks to his orange tow float, an inflatable buoy open water swimmers are recommended to wear, and was pulled on to its inshore boat before being transferred onto its larger vessel and taken to the marina.

The float has been credited with saving his life by the RNLI as it today shared images taken during the operation.

A spokesperson for the RNLI said: “Images taken during yesterday’s incident involving an open water swimmer demonstrate how difficult the conditions were for RNLI volunteers outside the harbour and just how vital the swimmers floatation device was to him staying afloat, being located and his ultimate survival.”

The images taken by Sunderland RNLI show the waves they faced as they went out on the callout.

Once back at the lifeboat station, the swimmer, who had been wearing a wetsuit and visible hat, was warmed up and given care and handed over to paramedics from the North East Ambulance Service.

He was then taken to hospital for treatment for hypothermia and a suspected hip injury.

The RNLI has said the recent rainfall during the last few days had created an unusually strong current in the area, with the fresh water travelling down the River Wear and tide going out causing the difficult conditions.

Sunderland RNLI has shared photos of its rescue mission to help a swimmer pulled out to sea off Roker.

The Coastguard, along with the RNLI, has recommended anyone taking part in outdoor swimming to wear a wetsuit, use a tow float, carry a Personal Location Beacon (PLB), stick to swimming in groups and tell someone of their intentions and the expected time of return.

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Sunderland RNLI gave the 67-year-old care and helped warm him up before he was taken to hospital for treatment for hypothermia and a suspected hip injury.