Crews will resume searching for a missing swimmer in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Wildwood this morning. Officials say it is now a recovery mission.

The mission, which began after 4 pm Tuesday, came after a call saying that several swimmers were in distress south of the Wildwoods Convention Center, near the Andrews Avenue beach.

According to 6 ABC, Wildwood Fire Chief Ernie Troiano said one swimmer made it out on his own and two others were rescued in the early going of the operation.

"It sounded like they were trying to swim back in, may have been caught in a rip (current). Instead of going parallel with the beach and letting it spit you out and then coming in, they might have been trying to fight against it and they got overcome."

 

The search continued until dark for a fourth swimmer who authorities identified as a male. Wildwood fire crews estimated that the missing swimmer was as far as 200 yards out in the ocean when he ran into trouble. That is an extremely dangerous distance.

At one point, rescuers resorted to forming a human chain and walked through the ocean searching for the man.

The operation included U.S. Coast Guard boats and a helicopter, along with local marine units and a sonar boat.
The missing swimmer has not been identified.

Officials remind everyone that the beaches aren't fully staffed with lifeguards at this point in the season. You should never swim without a lifeguard present.

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