FIERCE currents dragged a struggling swimmer for almost two miles as emergency crews set out on a dramatic sea rescue.

The person went into the water near Brighton Palace Pier yesterday afternoon but soon found themselves in trouble in giant waves.

After several rescue attempts from police and passersby, they were eventually pulled from the water by a brave lifeguard at Black Rock.

Coastguard crews said they had been "very lucky to escape the sea".

Ambulance, police, Coastguard and lifeboat crews were all involved in the dramatic operation on Sunday afternoon, assisted by Brighton Beach Patrol officers.

A spokesman for Shoreham Coastguard said: "Newhaven Coastguard, Shoreham RNLI, Sussex Police, the South East Coast Ambulance (Secamb) service and Brighton Seafront Office lifeguards all attended the scene to assist with the casualty who had entered the water for a swim.

The Argus:

"The casualty entered the water towards Brighton Palace Pier and was swept along towards Black Rock.

"Several members of the public, as well as police officers, attempted a rescue before lifeguards managed to rescue the casualty from the water.

"Coastguards assisted to stretcher the casualty from the beach and into the care of Secamb."

Sussex Square resident Kim Palmer, who saw the rescue, said: "Initially I saw a group of about 50 people running down the beach.

"It was the commotion that caught my eye. It looked like a very large family group out on a day trip perhaps.

"Then I saw there was someone in the water.

The Argus:

"A man in his swimming trunks had a lifebuoy and he was attaching this to a rope and then he went in to try and help his friend.

"Two red and yellow lifeguard vehicles then stormed up and one of the guards charged out to sea.

"The waves were fierce and, by this stage, there was quite a big crowd around.

"Lots of Coastguard vehicles and ambulances were coming down the drive and a lifeboat was out, but it was the lifeguards who rescued the man.

"Apparently the most dangerous bit is the bit between Black Rock Beach and the outer marina harbour arm because the waves come in and there's nowhere for the energy to dissipate."

After the rescue, Coastguard crews issued an urgent warning to anyone considering swimming in the sea.

The Argus:

The Shoreham Coastguard  spokesman said: "Today this person was very lucky to escape the sea. Don’t put yourself or others in danger.

"When the sea is rough, stay out of the water.

"The waves can easily drag an adult out to sea which has the potential for catastrophic results.

"Large waves, tides and currents all pose a threat to life.

"If you see anyone in trouble in the sea or along the coast, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard."