Frightened swimmers clinging to life rings by Brighton Pier rescued by lifeboat

Lifeboats News Release

Two female swimmers who were clinging to life rings underneath Brighton Pier were rescued by volunteer lifeboat crew members yesterday (23 July).

The crew from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Brighton station launched at 8.27pm following a 999 call from a member of the public to local coastguards.

The caller reported seeing two girls stranded on the west side of Brighton Pier, clinging to the support pillars after getting into distress in the sea approximately 50 metres from the shore.

The lifeboat rescuers arrived in the inshore lifeboat, Random Harvest, to find the girls were being kept afloat in the water by life rings that had been thrown to them by pier staff.

Roger Cohen, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Brighton RNLI, said: ‘The girls were both 15 years old, and told us they had been swimming on the west side of the pier when suddenly the beach shelved and dropped away. Finding themselves suddenly in deeper water, one girl panicked and they managed to get to a pier support.

‘They were a bit shaken and had grazed their legs on the barnacles, but thankfully staff at the pier had thrown them life rings and were holding onto the rope to keep them in sight.’

Roger said the sea was in flood tide – the tide was coming in – and there was a slight swell. The lifeboat crew manoeuvred between the pier supports and got both girls into the lifeboat.

‘We wrapped them in blankets and assessed their condition,’ he said. ‘Apart from being a bit cold and the minor cuts to their legs, they were OK. We took them back to our lifeboat station at Brighton Marina and gave them some hot tea and biscuits, while their clothes on the beach were recovered by the volunteer coastguard team and one of their dads came to collect them.’

The rescue was the third launch of the day for the volunteer lifeboat crew who regularly drop everything to respond to their pager and go to sea to save others. Earlier that day at 2.11pm, the crew launched after police reported that a man had taken sleeping pills and was swimming directly south away from the shore – he was believed to be in a vulnerable state and in need of assistance. The lifeboat crew tried to coax him aboard but he refused – eventually the crew persuaded him to swim back to shore, and escorted him until he was safely on dry land where he was met by police.

And at 5.21pm, the crew launched assist four adults and two children aboard a 22ft speedboat that had suffered electrical failure, 1.3 miles south east of Brighton seafront. The lifeboat towed the speedboat to safety.

The RNLI remains a charity that relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions and the efforts of thousands of volunteer lifeboat crew members and fundraisers. For tips and advice on beach safety, visit

RNLI media contacts

• Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252
Sophie Coller-Nielsen Press Officer (London/East/South East), 0207 6207416, 07824 416615 email
• For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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