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Troubled swimmer rescued off Catlins coast

Monday, December 04, 2017

Update: 12:32PM WAIKAWA, Catlins: A DUNEDIN man who got into trouble in strong outgoing current at Waikawa Harbour, on the Catlins coast, has been rescued.

The man and his friends had gone swimming at Waikawa Harbour.

Police had received a report at around 1:40am yesterday (Sunday December 3) that the man, in his 20s, had entered the water at the Waikawa Wharf and got caught in the outgoing current in the harbour channel.

Invercargill search and rescue coordinator Sergeant Ian Martin said the man's friends called Police and a search and rescue operation was launched.

He said this included volunteers from Waikawa Rural Fire, local commercial fishermen and members of the Tokanui LandSAR group.

He said a night vision-equipped helicopter from Southern Lakes Helicopters in Te Anau was also deployed. 

In the meantime, Sgt Martin said the man was able to swim ashore on the opposite side of the harbour.

"He crossed farmland onto an isolated road in Progress Valley where he walked six kilometres before finding a house where he could report to Police that he was safe at around 3:20am," Sgt Martin said.

"Police have established the man had been drinking with a group when he was encouraged to swim out to a moored yacht.

"The man and his friends are very lucky this story didn't have a different outcome.

"It is never a good idea to go swimming in unfamiliar waters, particularly at night and especially not if you have been drinking.

"Excessive drinking can affect your decision-making, it?s important that everyone takes responsibility for keeping themselves safe."

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