A MAN drowned in the sea after taking a cocktail of drugs during a night out.

Thomas Rusling had taken ketamine and Diazepam with friends before going for a swim off Brighton.

An inquest into his death heard he had been partying with friends at Volk’s nightclub in Madeira Drive.

The 28-year-old stripped down to his underpants and swam out towards Brighton Palace Pier shortly after 7am on September 30, telling them he was a “strong swimmer”, Brighton Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.

He was on the beach taking drugs with friends after Volk’s closed at around 5am before heading into the sea. There was a 20-strong swimming club out in the sea while he was in the water, along with divers.

The inquest heard his friend Phoebe Horn grew worried when Mr Rusling disappeared from sight. She rang the Coastguard and a search party was launched to find Mr Rusling.

Despite the efforts of a helicopter, lifeboat volunteers and police, he could not be found.

At around 11.20am, his body was spotted floating in the water by a man walking along the groyne east of the pier.

The man and another passer-by helped pull him to the shore then a doctor, who happened to be walking past, stopped to help.

The state of Mr Rusling’s body indicated he had been dead for a short time.

Mr Rusling, of Mayflower Square in Brighton, had also taken cocaine and drunk a small amount of alcohol in the build-up to his death.

He was unemployed and known to Pavilions, a substance misuse service, since November last year. He was trying to overcome his issues with ketamine.

In court, his father Mark, 59, said: “He was trying so hard to get his life back together.”

Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said the cause of Mr Rusling’s death was drowning in seawater. The presence of ketamine and Diazepam was a contributing factor.The cocaine and alcohol did not play a part.

Mrs Hamilton-Deeley said: “I think that both the ketamine and the Diazepam are relevant because they divert your breathing and if you are struggling in water then you need not to be impaired in any way.”

She concluded Mr Rusling’s death was an accident.

Mr Rusling’s family paid tribute to him after the inquest.

His father said: “I certainly couldn’t have hoped for a better son. He’s left a hole in Brighton.

“He was about to become very successful. I am going to try and continue that – I think that’s what he’d want.

“I have hardly been out of bed – the world has been difficult to face.”

The two made music together, and some of Mr Rusling’s work will be played at the Burning Of The Clocks in Brighton on December 21.

His sister Tiffany, 32, said: “He was a really kind soul and he believed in fairness.”