Swimmer rescued off Kerry coast after hours-long search effort

Missing swimmer was found despite search operation initially being stood down

An exhausted swimmer was rescued off the coast of Co Kerry following an extensive search which was launched after clothes were found on a beach.

Fenit RNLI and Rescue 115 were requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard at 11am on Sunday after the clothes were discovered at Castlegregory beach.

Volunteer lifeboat crew with Fenit RNLI spotted a head above water hours later at 8.30pm and took the swimmer onboard an all-weather lifeboat.

It is not known how long the swimmer had been in the water, but he was brought to Fenit Harbour to be met by ambulance and brought to hospital, where it is understood he is still recovering.

Fenit RNLI said they began searching at 12.40pm but the search was stood down later in the afternoon “with nothing found and no further information”.

The search was reactivated at 6pm at the request of An Garda Síochána with two lifeboats searching the original search area and the bay nearer to Tralee, again joined by Rescue 115 overhead.

Volunteer lifeboat crew with Fenit RNLI spotted a pod of dolphins and a head above the water about 4km off Castlegregory beach at 8.30pm.

“The swimmer was conscious and immediately recovered onto the lifeboat and brought to Fenit Harbour to be taken to hospital. Fenit RNLI’s medical adviser was also on scene,” the RNLI said.

Gerard O’Donnell, Fenit RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said that “after a long and exhaustive search, members of the lifeboat crew were overjoyed to see the missing swimmer in the water.

“They had been scanning the water for any sign of movement and were worried with light fading that they would not find anyone,” he said.

“Even at this time of year, the water can be very cold and as yet we don’t know how long this person was in the water and when they entered it. When the lifeboat crew found them they were a good distance from the shore and were exhausted,” he added.

Mr O’Donnell said they would advise anyone going for a swim to let people know where they are going and when they are expected back.

“This was a very lucky individual,” he said.

Meanwhile, Water Safety Ireland is urging people going to the beach or engaging in water based activities to swim within their depth and to stay within their depth.

“Many people are swimming for the first time this year and have not had swimming classes for more than 15 months. Swim at a lifeguarded waterway. Otherwise swimming areas that are known locally as safe and where there are ring-buoys present for rescues. Make sure that the water’s edge is shallow shelving so that you can safely enter and exit.”