A SWIMMER had a “lucky escape” after he was pulled from the sea off Sandbanks on Saturday evening.

Graham Johnstone and his 14-year-old son Lewis were aboard their skiff on their way from Shell Bay when they spotted concerned members of the public pointing in the direction of Brownsea Island at around 5.30pm.

They then saw a head disappearing beneath the waves in the channel near the chain ferry slip. Graham and Lewis dragged the exhausted swimmer aboard their vessel.

The incident happened on one of the hottest days of the year and shortly after England claimed victory over Sweden in the World Cup. The RNLI suspected the swimmer had been drinking.

Anne-Marie Clark of Poole RNLI said: “A report came through that there were concerns for a person in the water by the chain ferry.

“The lifeboat volunteers were soon on scene and found the casualty had been scooped up by a passing vessel and was safe.

“Conditions in the harbour were good with a north easterly breeze.

“An RNLI crewman was transferred onto the vessel to check that the casualty was okay. It appeared that he had been in water for some time, so the decision was made to request an ambulance to standby at North Haven steps.

“The casualty was transferred onto the lifeboat, and made comfortable, then the lifeboat made its way to the awaiting ambulance and Poole coastguard unit.”

RNLI crews said Graham and Lewis saved the swimmer’s life.

Volunteer senior helm Jonathan Clark said: “The casualty was extremely fortunate.

“The sailors were passing by at the right time.

“They were alerted by the actions of the people on the beach to the situation and realised the man was in real difficulty.

“By getting him out of the water, they saved his life.”

Graham told the Daily Echo: “It was a struggle to see him in the water as the sun was in our eyes.

“We saw his head going under. I think he was quite lucky.”

Earlier in the day, two divers were airlifted to hospital after an accident near a shipwreck.

RNLI crews were called to a charter boat anchored at Anvil Point, off Swanage, when divers made a ‘mayday’ call.

The divers had made a rapid ascent from the wreck of the Kyara and one was quickly beginning to show signs of decompression sickness.

The coastguard helicopter was called out to evacuate both of the divers to Poole Hospital.

A spokesperson from Swanage’s lifeboat crew said: “The lifeboat was quickly on scene and a crewmember went aboard the dive boat to get an update on the situation and assist with winching operations.

“The helicopter arrived a few minutes later and, one at a time, the divers were winched up.

“They were then flown to the decompression chamber at Poole Hospital for further treatment.”