More than 350 swimmers needed assistance at Waikiki event

HONOLULU — More than 350 swimmers had to be helped to shore by Honolulu firefighters and lifeguards because of strong currents during the annual Waikiki Roughwater Swim, officials said.

The Honolulu Emergency Services Department said 29 firefighters assisted swimmers in distress during the 50th annual race Tuesday, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

No fatalities or injuries were reported.

The event started shortly after 8:30 a.m. with about 1,000 swimmers and emergency personnel were assisting participants in distress around 9:45 a.m.

Large numbers required assistance returning to shore “due to strong currents and tougher than expected conditions,” said fire department spokesman Capt. Scot Seguirant.

Lifeguards said a change in the tide caused trouble for swimmers. Many participants were plucked from the water behind the point where the race started, according to emergency services spokeswoman Shayne Enright.

The fire department’s helicopter conducted searches for distressed swimmers, while ocean safety personnel used personal watercraft to take participants to shore, officials said.

Lifeguards hired by race organizers and others, including members of the Outrigger Canoe Club, also helped distressed swimmers, officials said.

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