An extensive water and aerial search has been launched for a young man who went missing while swimming with friends at a popular beach on the NSW south coast.
The swimmer aged in his 20s was spotted struggling in the water around 100m offshore at Fairy Meadow Beach around 6.30pm on Sunday night.
Friends raised the alarm after the man failed to return to shore.
Marine Rescue NSW crews spent several hours trying to find the missing swimmer before the initial search was called off.
The search resumed at 7am Monday involving dozens of Marine Rescue NSW and Surf Life Saving NSW members in inflatable rescue vessels and on jet skis.
Crews are working with NSW Police Marine officers along a 14km stretch of coastline between Bellambi Point to Port Kembla.
Marine Rescue NSW crews continue the search for a missing swimmer who vanished near Fairy Meadow Beach on Sunday night
A rescue helicopter was also deployed to assist with the search.
Vessels are also conducting a parallel line search in choppy conditions hampered by 25-30km/hr north-easterly winds.
A strong wind warning was in place for much of the NSW coastline on Monday, including the Illawarra.
‘We’ve got FLIR (forward-looking infrared) cameras, so we can use those to look for heat signatures and the other side is we have our sonar technology, so we are looking for things under the water as well,’ Marine Rescue NSW Stuart Massey told the ABC.
‘Police have also done some drift modelling and we are covering off some designated areas that they have identified as well as some local knowledge to determine the best place to go.’
Fairy Meadow Beach is currently closed to the public as the search continues.
It’s understood the beach was not patrolled by lifeguards at the time of the swimmer went missing but assisted in Sunday night’s initial search.
Fairy Meadow Beach (pictured) was unpatrolled when the swimmer vanished 100m offshore
An extensive water and aerial search resumed on Monday morning
Fairy Meadow beach is notorious for dangerous rips and sand bars, according to Surf Life Saving NSW.
‘The beach receives waves averaging 1.5m in the north-centre, decreasing to 1m toward the south, which results in a single bar cut by rips every 200m, with up to 14 rips along the beach,’ its website states.
‘Rip size and intensity usually decreases down the beach. The intervening bar is attached during periods of lower waves, particularly to the south, while higher waves will produce a continuous trough occupied by rip feeder currents, and occasionally a second outer bar along the northern half of the beach.’
‘Towradgi has a strong, permanent rip against the northern rocks, with the flags usually placed behind the first bar to the south. The rips continue to Fairy Meadow and beyond, so stay between the flags and on the bars and avoid the rips down the beach.’
An initial search for the swimmer on Sunday night was postponed until the morning