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Western beaches give unwary holiday swimmers a battering

Last updated 05:00 09/01/2014

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Lifeguards have been nearly run off their feet at Bethells Beach, prompting a warning for visitors to take more care at the volatile west coast beach.

Eight people were rescued after a rip suddenly developed near the swimming area on Saturday and three fishermen were taken to safety after being cut off by the tide at neighbouring Waitakere Bay on Sunday.

About 100 people were in the water when the rip hit, three people needing treatment at the clubrooms, Bethells Beach surf club president Adrian Jenkins says. The beach was closed for about 10 minutes until flags were repositioned at a safer place.

On January 2 the club had what Mr Jenkins describes as "four rescues and a wedding".

A stroke victim was recovered from the water and taken to hospital and another man found unconscious was dragged from the surf and revived.

A third man was found under a bridge near Lake Wainamu face down in the water and treated by ambulance paramedics who were still at the beach when a swimmer was found floating at nearby O'Neill Bay.

"He wasn't breathing so we did cpr on him all the way back to Bethells," Mr Jenkins says. The Westpac rescue helicopter took the man to hospital and he survived.

Much of this was happening before the gaze and cameras of a wedding party near the clubrooms, Mr Jenkins says.

Up to 16 lifeguards were patrolling the beach at busy times.

League player Sonny Fai disappeared in the Bethells Beach surf five years ago this month P6.

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- Rodney Times

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