A EUROPEAN tourist who nearly drowned in the surf at Coffs Harbour remained in a critical but stable condition in hospital yesterday.
The man, in his late 20s, was swimming with three friends when they all became caught in a rip at North Wall beach at 1.30pm on Sunday.
Three of the men managed to struggle out of the water, but the fourth man got into difficulties and was found floating face down by two local bathers.
They resuscitated him and ambulance officers took him to Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
He is being treated in the intensive care unit.
Coffs Harbour City Council's senior lifeguard, Sonny Tisdell, said the incident reinforced the importance of all bathers swimming at patrolled beaches only.
In this instance, Park Beach to the north was the nearest patrol, he said.
Mr Tisdell said once the Tower of Strength at Park Beach was ready to be manned ? which should be within weeks ? council lifeguards and club lifesavers would have uninterrupted views south of the Coffs Creek mouth and north to Macauleys Headland.
"The mouth of Coffs Creek causes all sorts of problems for swimmers, as does North Wall beach," Mr Tisdell said.
"People should not swim there, because it is not a patrolled beach, and there is rip action there constantly."