A group of 11 children and adults who were caught in a rip tide off the coast of north Devon have been rescued by lifeguards.
Two lifeguards patrolling Woolacombe beach raised the alarm after they saw the bathers quickly moving out to sea on Sunday afternoon.
A nearby kayaker and surfer were asked to act as floating platforms for the swimmers to cling to while the inshore lifeboat was launched.
It took three trips to bring all the swimmers back to the beach.
Senior lifeguard Luke Yabsley, who was involved in the rescue, said lifeguard patrols on the beach had only started up for the summer season the day before.
"They were very lucky - who knows what would have happened if we hadn't have been patrolling," he added.
According to the lifeguard, the group were "just in the wrong place at the wrong time" and there was nothing they could have done when the flash rip tide came through where they were swimming.
"The group were swimming in a lifeguarded beach and were between the flags when it happened," he said.
"Once we realised the situation we launched the rescue boat and brought the group back.
This incident... reiterates the importance of swimming at a lifeguarded beach
Phil Hill, RNLI
"We couldn't take them all at once so we threw floatation devices into the sea and also called a surfer and kayaker over to help keep them afloat while we nipped some of the group back to shore."
The group, who were shaken by their ordeal, were so grateful for being rescued that they returned on Monday to thank the lifeguards and tell them of their plans to give a donation to the RNLI.
Phil Hill, RNLI divisional lifeguard manager for Devon, said: "This incident illustrates how unpredictable the sea is and how quickly conditions can change, and reiterates the importance of swimming at a lifeguarded beach."
|Liveleak on Facebook|