'We don't want anyone to die': Lifeguards' warning
LIFEGUARDS are urging beach-goers to make a conscious decision to swim between the flags, no matter the conditions.
Australian Lifeguard Service's Northern NSW Lifeguard Coordinator Scott McCartney said people should never underestimate how deceptive the ocean can be.
He said the ocean was like an iceberg: "There's a lot more going on underneath than what you can see."
"After two incidents at North Kingscliff last Friday and Sunday of one tragic drowning and near drowning at North Kingscliff, it's important to remember your decision to swim between the flags can be a life or death decision," he said.
"We don't want anyone to die in the water."
Mr McCartney said people needed to realise that even experienced swimmers can get in trouble with a rip or sweep.
"Everyone should take advantage of the fact that trained lifeguards are there to watch over swimmers of all levels," he said.
"Some of the best pool swimmers can find it dangerous in the rips and choppy water."
While the majority of beach visitors do swim between the yellow and red flags, Mr McCartney said it was vital people don't put their egos ahead of their own safety.
"Hats of to the public who do swim between the flags," he said.
"There's been 32 drownings this year in New South Wales and we want to do everything possible to stop any more occurring.
"Please remember we have professional lifeguards at Kingscliff, Byron Main Beach and Lennox Head Beach on Monday to Friday and volunteer lifeguards every weekend at every club beach along the coastline until the end of the autumn school holidays."