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Ocean Safety reports 320 rescues, assists as huge surf pounds south shores

It was a busy day for lifeguards as the first big south shore swell of the season rolled in on Tuesday.
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 10:20 PM HST|Updated: May. 4, 2022 at 7:48 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ocean Safety officials are warning beachgoers to remain vigilant as the first big south shore swell of the season rolls in, bringing massive surf.

It was a busy day for lifeguards on Tuesday.

Lt. Dennis Coglietta, of Honolulu Ocean Safety, said all day long, lifeguards in Waikiki brought people back to safely.

Some surfers got blown off shore by the stiff trade winds and others ended up overwhelmed by the rising swell that arrived faster and larger than expected.

“This swell is absolutely one of the biggest we’ve seen in the last year or two,” said Coglietta. “It came in super quick, there’s a lot of energy out there.”

“The currents pretty strong,” said Surfer Jonah Aguon of Mililani. “You’re getting like tossed around a lot, it’s like a washing machine basically.”

As of 5 p.m., the Ocean Safety Division reported 320 rescues and assists on the south shore.

Coglietta said the waves in Waikiki reached 10- to 15-foot faces. “A lot of assists, the Bowls area, Point Panics and even right here Kapahulu Wall,” said Coglietta.

Point Panic was also maxed out.

Photographer Ramon Brockington was at the bodysurfing spot off Kewalo Basin when a surfer got into trouble and fellow riders came to his aide.

The group got him on a board and brought him safely to shore.

“I was quite shocked, I wasn’t expecting for that to happen,” Brockington said. “And for me to actually capture him going in the water and see the same person floating upside down being pulled back to shore.”

Off-Duty Coast Guard Member Chris Grimes was the one who spotted the body surfer in distress.

“It looked like he was running low on energy and a little bit of fatigue, so I put him on my board,” Grimes recalled. “We ended up getting kind of drawn out far with the water coming out of the channel.”

“And I waited over a couple more guys with some fins to help me paddle him in and that’s where teamwork paid off,” he added.

The new swell coincided with a big high tide just before sundown.

Lifeguards stayed later than usual to make sure everyone made it back to shore.

Honolulu Ocean Safety wants to stress to the public to know your limits, check your equipment, surf with a partner, watch your kids and go to a guarded beach.

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