Lifesavers are encouraging swimmers to stay between the flags.
Lifesavers are encouraging swimmers to stay between the flags. John McCutcheon

Lifeguard's plea to swim between flags

SWIMMERS are reminded to stay between the flags following a near-drowning at Fingal Head.

Tweed lifeguard supervisor Brent Lethbridge said the rescue of two Queensland teenagers at Fingal Head last week came as a timely reminder for people to swim between the flags, especially during the Australia Day long weekend.

"The patrol always set up in the safest area, so always swim between the red and yellow flags,” Mr Lethbridge said.

He emphasised there was always a danger when swimming at unpatrolled beaches like Dreamtime Beach, where the near- drowning occurred.

"The danger in large and powerful surf is you could be knee-deep at one moment, then a large swell will come through and then you're chest-deep, " he said.

"That water has to go somewhere, so it pulls off from the beach.”

His advice was if Fingal was not a suitable location due to wind or surf, find the next closest patrolled beach.

"Dreamtime (Beach) is a beautiful location but being an upatrolled beach it is a little bit remote to get to for emergency services,” he said. "Always aim for those red and yellow flags.”

Mr Lethbridge said people should remain constantly vigilant when at the beach, even if they were not swimming, and phone emergency services if you spot someone in trouble outside the flagged area.

"Straight away call triple-0 and ask for lifesaving services,” he said.

"That number 24 hours a day will get tasked to a duty officer, who will be assigned to deploy assets to that area.”

Mr Lethbridge encouraged anyone concerned about swimming conditions, especially at an unfamiliar beach, to speak to a lifeguard on duty.