A SWIMMER described his shock when he turned around to find a man floating, unconscious, in the water behind him.

Instinct kicked in for Anthony Nicholson as he and another man dragged the limp figure to shore on Bognor beach on Wednesday evening and began performing CPR.

It was thanks to his quick thinking and a rapid response from ambulance crews that the man survived.

“It was a traumatic Wednesday,” said Anthony, 37.

“I was out at sea with my partner and had just turned around to say that the sea felt colder that day, despite all the warm weather.

“A I turned I saw something floating in the water.

“The beach was busy that day, it was hot, so I thought maybe it was one of the kids swimming after jumping in.”

But he soon realised this was not the case and the floating object was the motionless figure of a man.

“He was floating, his head down in the water,” Anthony said.

“Me and another guy saw him and ran over, we got to him at the same time.

“He was in relatively shallow water, luckily, not past the groynes, so we were able to pull him to safety.”

But the rescue operation had only just begun. The man did not appear to be breathing.

Anthony carried him up the beach, past the pebbles and on to a clear patch of sand, before starting to press on his stomach.

He had previously spent time in the theatre and cruise industries and said he had learned CPR skills through his work.

“I never thought I would have to use them in a situation like this,” Anthony said.

“A couple of other people came to help me. Eventually, we put him in the recovery position.

“It was a relief to feel on his back that he was breathing again after the CPR.

“Unfortunately he never regained consciousness.”

While he was doing this, Anthony’s fiancée Karina Walencik found the man’s belongings and phone on the beach.

She was able to make contact with several of his flatmates who rushed to the scene.

Paramedics were also quick to arrive, with four ambulance crews at the beach within minutes of being called.

The air ambulance joined them at the scene shortly afterwards.

A South East Coast Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called to reports of a person who had been in the water and was in need of medical attention on the beach near Marine Drive West, Bognor, shortly before 7pm on Wednesday.

“The patient was given emergency treatment at the scene before being taken by road to St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, in a serious condition.

“The air ambulance team travelled in our ambulance to help treat the patient en route to hospital.

“We would like to thank Mr Nicolson and all those who came to the person’s aid prior to our arrival.

“Their quick thinking and actions were vital in ensuring that the person was given the best chance of survival.”

Anthony said time had seemed to speed up when he noticed the man floating in the water.

“It’s just like being given a sudden kick,” he said.

“The adrenaline all kicks in. You just know you have to get him to shore and start CPR

“It just becomes instinctive.”

Anthony heaped praise on those who had helped with the rescue, as well as paramedic crews attending the scene.

He said: “The paramedics rushed down, they were very quick and absolutely amazing, and so was my fiancee who was able to find his phone and call someone that knew him.

“There was also the unknown man who helped me rescue the casualty from the water and a lady who helped me with the CPR on the beach, but I wasn’t able to catch her names. I really want to thank them for everything they did.”