Desperate search for missing man last seen swimming at Fairy Meadow Beach, Wollongong

The search for a man last seen in the water at a popular Wollongong beach on Sunday evening is set to continue, however Marine Rescue NSW volunteers have currently been stood down amid weather warnings.

The man entered the water at Fairy Meadow Beach but did not resurface, prompting an urgent, multi-agency response into the night, NSW Police said.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Search continues for man last seen swimming at Fairy Meadow.

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Witnesses spotted the man “submerging in the water” 100m offshore about 6.38pm, Life Saving NSW said.

Emergency services responded to reports the swimmer had “failed to re-appear,” NSW Police said.

NSW Police, NSW Marine Rescue and Surf Life Saving NSW searched on Sunday night, Monday, and now Tuesday, although Marine Rescue NSW volunteers suspended their search at 10.30am on Tuesday after several hours on the water.

“The search is currently suspended and we are awaiting further instruction from Marine Area Command,” Marine Rescue NSW Inspector Glenn Sullivan said.

“A gale warning is in place for the Illawarra Coast today.”

The man was last seen struggling 100m offshore at 6.38pm on Sunday. File image. Credit: Visit NSW

When search and rescue parties initially hit the water after first reports of the missing swimmer, Marine Rescue NSW Inspector Stuart Massey said the volunteer crew “conducted multiple search patterns off Fairy Meadow in fair sea conditions” in the dark for hours.

“Volunteers on board Port Kembla 31 used the vessel’s FLIR (forward-looking infrared) system to aid visibility before being stood down for the night at 9.30pm,” he said.

Their team expanded the search at 8am on Monday morning to include two additional search boats.

“The first search area is between Flagstaff Point and Towradgi Point,” Massey said.

“Port Kembla 31, Shellharbour 30 and Water Police 23 are conducting a parallel line search in fair sea conditions.”

A multi-agency land, air and water search for the man resumed early on Monday morning. Credit: Marine Rescue NSW

Surf Life Saving NSW also sent out three jet skis, three all terrain vehicles, six inflatable rescue boats and a helicopter to assist the search from 7am on Monday, along the 14km stretch of coastline from Bellambi Point to Port Kembla.

Rips are common at the beach, according to Surf Life Saving NSW.

“The beach receives waves averaging 1.5m in the north-centre, decreasing to 1m toward the south, which results in a single bar cut by rips every 200m, with up to 14 rips along the beach,” the Surf Life Saving NSW website said.

It reports that Fairy Meadow Beach is now currently closed to the public,

It is understood the beach was not patrolled by lifeguards at the time of the incident, but volunteers from Fairy Meadow SLSC and North Wollongong SLSC responded after hours to assist in the search.

“Fairy Meadow Beach is only patrolled during the NSW school holidays, between September to the end of the NSW April school holidays. North Wollongong Beach is the only beach in the area that is patrolled all year round,” the Visit Wollongong website said.

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