A major search and rescue operation was launched yesterday after a number of swimmers at a charity event in Dorset went home without notifying organisers.
Three lifeboats and a police helicopter were deployed when nine participants were reported missing after the swim between Bournemouth and Boscombe piers.
Organisers alerted the coastguard shortly after 2pm when a head count showed some people were missing. Rescuers then spent hours searching for the missing swimmers before finding that they had simply gone home.
"All the time that was going on, it became clearer the problem was with the administration of checking these people off," said a spokesman for Portland Coastguard.
Andy Coles, the organiser of the event, said several participants failed to check in after completing the course. "We will be reviewing the check-in procedure with the event organisers, and thank all of the event swimmers who today raised much needed funds to fight heart disease," he said.
About 1,000 people take part in the annual 1.4-mile swim in aid of the British Heart Foundation.