A FULL-SCALE rescue mission was launched on Sunday (September 6) after a swimmer was reported missing off Selsey’s coastline.
A wife raised the alarm around 3.15pm after becoming concerned her husband should have returned an hour before.
Both Selsey lifeboats, a rescue helicopter, coastguards and both Littlehampton lifeboats joined the search for the man, in his 50s, who entered the water 200-300 west of the lifeboat station.
The crews searched from that point east towards Bognor Regis, as that was the tidal stream at the time.
“At approximately 4.25pm, Solent Coastguards received an emergency phone call from a member of the public reporting a swimmer approximately 100 metres off shore near to the Selsey Bill point,” said Max Gilligan from Selsey Lifeboat Station.
All the rescue teams were approaching that point in the search and the Selsey inshore lifeboat was able to recover the man and confirm he was the missing swimmer.
“The man was unaware the rescue craft were searching for him and was keen to finish his swim but after three hours in the water the lifeboat crew decided to take him back to the station to be checked by an ambulance crew and reunite him with his wife and family,” said Mr Gilligan.
The swimmer had headed to the Mixon Pole and back – some 1.25 miles south of the lifeboat station.
The weather at the time was wind force three, with a slight sea state in sunshine with good visibility.
However, Mr Gilligan said swimmers should if possible wear a fluorescent cap when swimming as this made them easier to spot. In addition, a number of jet skis were travelling past Selsey at the time, returning from an event at Hayling Island, and there was concern one of them could have accidentally struck him.
Mr Gilligan said the swimmer’s wife had done exactly the right thing in reporting him missing.
“Any concern over anyone in the water needs to be reported,” he said.
“It’s the right thing to do. She seemed very concerned that she had done the wrong thing and that she perhaps should have waited a bit longer but when you’ve got someone in the water you don’t wait too long – we will go for anyone.”
Selsey’s lifeboats were rehoused just before 5pm.
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