RNLI lifeboat crew rescue swimmer stranded in water for four hours off Gravesend coast - video

The man was extremely cold when rescuers pulled him from the water

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The Independent Online

An RNLI lifeboat crew saved the life of a swimmer who was treading water in the Thames estuary for four hours.

A lifeboat crew from Gravesend rushed to save the man at around 9:20am on Wednesday, after crew from a commercial vessel reported seeing a person in the water a considerable distance from the shore between Canvey Island and Allhallows.

Crew members on the vessel kept watch until the lifeboat crew arrived on the scene.

Footage of the incident shows the man as he is pulled from the vast stretch of water. Lifeboat crew members then wrapped the swimmer – who was extremely cold but coherent – in a dry robe and blanket.

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The swimmer entered the water at Southend, and was swept four miles up the estuary by strong currents. He ingested large amounts of water during the ordeal, according to the charity.

An ambulance crew met the RNLI team at Holehaven Creek slipway, where the East Coast Ambulance service took over the victims' care.

Helmsman Ian Smith said: "It’s amazing that someone can survive this long treading water and that if it was not for the commercial vessel spotting this person in the water then the outcome could have been very different.

"We have put this one down as a life saved."