COASTGUARDS and lifeboat crews took more than two hours to rescue a late-night swimmer from the sea off Littlehampton in the early hours of Sunday morning (July 27).
A widespread rescue effort was launched following reports that a woman had entered the sea near Sea Road, just before midnight.
Both RNLI crews from the Littlehampton lifeboat station, in Fisherman’s Quay, rushed to the location but in the darkness of night couldn’t initially find the woman.
Nick White, lifeboat operations manager, said: “It was clear that someone had entered the sea and not returned. So an extensive search of the beach was made.”
Police and coastguard teams in Littlehampton took part in the land search but no sign could be found of the swimmer.
Mr White added: “Even with a slight chop in the water, picking out a dark head, the size of a football, is very difficult. You could be very close and still not see it.”
The woman was eventually spotted by the coastguard helicopter crew. She was picked up by the RNLI and taken to the lifeboat station.
Paramedics treated her for prolonged exposure to the sea. She was later taken to hospital.