An exhausted swimmer reported missing in the sea yesterday managed to climb onto a fishing boat before he was later found by search teams.
The alarm was raised at around 11.00am when the man, who had been training for a triathlon with two others, was reported missing. Two of the group of three had returned to shore but there was no sign of the third man.
The Irish Coast Guard marine rescue coordination on Valentia Island in Kerry received an emergency call and a search and rescue operation was quickly mounted.
The Kilkee unit of the Coast Guard was alerted while the Shannon based search and rescue helicopter, Rescue 115, was also tasked to assist in the search.
A search of the bay was carried out by Coast Guard volunteers while other personnel commenced a land and coastline search.
The crew of the Kilkee Coast Guard boat concentrated their search in Kilkee Bay particularly in the area where a number of boats are often anchored.
During the search volunteers located the exhausted swimmer collapsed on the deck of a local fishing boat.
The man was transferred to the rescue boat and rushed back to Kilkee Coast Guard’s rescue centre where he was treated for exhaustion and mild hypothermia.
The helicopter was stood down when it was just minutes from the scene.
It’s understood that the man in his 40’s was not used to swimming in the sea and had previously spent time training in lakes and swimming pools.
Conditions in Kilkee at the time were said to be rough with winds blowing up to force 6 at times. Unused to the rough conditions and unable to catch his breath, the man made his way to the fishing boat and climbed on board.
It’s understood that it took the man up to ten minutes to climb up the side of the boat to safety.
An Irish Coast Guard spokesman said: “Two of the swimmers returned to the shore and raised the alarm when there was no sign of their friend. The Kilkee unit was tasked and commenced a search of the bay.”
“As part of that search, the boat crew checked boats anchored in the bay and located the man on board one. He was taken back to the (rescue) centre where he was given warm clothing and treated by our members. Afterwards, he decided t return home,” the spokesman added.