IT HAD the potential to be a devastating afternoon, but beachgoers were left cheering when Brendan Ratcliffe pulled a drowning man to the shore.
A number of swimmers took to Woolgoolga Main Beach on Wednesday - an unexpectedly warm winter day with temperatures soaring above 32 degrees.
Brendan and a friend headed down to the beach in the evening for a swim when they noticed a man struggling in the water.
"Late in the arvo, me and my mate were going for a swim," Brendan said.
"We noticed old mate caught in a bit of rip. It was the biggest rip I've ever seen in the corner of that beach there. "He'd taken a bodyboard out with him and when he got caught in the rip he started to panic and let go of his board."
Brendan said by the time he reached the man he was about 30-40 metres out from the beach.
Witnesses to the rescue said the young man was hailed as a hero by beach- goers who erupted in cheers when Brendan brought the man back to the shore.
"When we came back to the shore he was pretty shaken up, he'd swallowed a lot of water," Brendan said.
The ambulance was called and the man was then taken to Coffs Harbour Base Hospital.
The man was described as being a Korean national, just one of a number of fellow nationals who have found themselves in danger - and have even lost their lives - at Woolgoolga Main Beach.
In December 2016, two Korean tourists were sailing a float around the southern side of the beach when they were knocked off by a bad rip. They were saved when a pair of surfers brought them to the shore.
In October 2012 a Korean swimmer tragically lost his life in the surf just days after the near-drowning of another national.
This tragedy saw AUSTSWIM announce it would provide water safety training for the Korean community, beginning in early 2013.
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