THREE tourists are lucky to alive after lifeguards were able to rescue them from Coffs Creek on Thursday afternoon.
Coffs Harbour City Council lifeguard Greg Hackfath said the incident was a firm reminder just how dangerous water can be, even if it was only waist deep.
"We had a family of Sydney people, non-English speaking, get into trouble out near the creek in very shallow water,” he said.
"They were all swimming together.
"None of them were strong swimmers.”
Mr Hackfath said the incident happened at about 4.45pm when there was no tidal movement.
He said the tourists had taken in some water and vomited when on shore but had not inhaled water.
Paramedics and police attended but the tourists did not have to be hospitalised and were released.
Despite the relatively shallow water and calm conditions, Mr Hackfath reminded people care was still needed when swimming.
He said it took just 20 to 60 seconds to drown.
"It doesn't take very long,” he said.
Mr Hackfath said this hammered in the importance of swimming between flags as it gave swimmers the best possible chance if they did find themselves in trouble.
"If people do do the right thing they can avoid trouble,” he said.