A COOLING swim at the Bega River mouth near Tathra had a tragic end for five young local men on Wednesday.
One of the group, a 19-year-old from Bega, drowned after being caught in an outgoing tide.
His name has yet to be officially released, but a report is being prepared for the Coroner.
Around 4.30pm Wednesday, emergency personnel including Tathra Surf Lifesavers, Marine Rescue, NSW Police and Ambulance rushed to the mouth of the Bega River, at Mogareeka north of Tathra, with reports of two people missing.
The search was witnessed by a large number of beachgoers, with many concerned as police and ambulance vehicles raced through town and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter arrived, later joined by the Snowy Hydro SouthCare chopper.
Inspector Jason Edmunds of Bega Police said three of the swimmers had managed to make their own way to shore.
A further two, both aged 19, remained unaccounted for after getting into difficulties in the strong current.
One of the men was rescued by a member of the Tathra Surf Club emergency response team and was taken to Bega Hospital with minor injuries.
He had managed to grab hold of a rock as the tide swept both young men out of the river.
A land, sea and air search continued for the other swimmer and he was eventually spotted by the Westpac rescue chopper and lifesavers in an IRB.
He was winched into the helicopter and flown to a nearby oval at the Tathra Beach Country Club.
CPR was carried out for over half an hour, but he was unable to be revived.
Police from Far South Coast Local Area Command are investigating the incident and will prepare a report for the Coroner.