An unconscious woman, who was fighting for breath, was rescued by the crew of the Portsmouth lifeboat.
The swimmer got into trouble off Hayling Island seafront yesterday afternoon after accepting a challenge to swim more than 200 yards to an offshore buoy.
Aaron Gent, a spokesman for the RNLI’s Portsmouth lifeboat station, said the crew had to abandon a first aid refresher course to deal with the woman shortly after 3pm on Sunday.
He said: ‘The crew was told the woman had been drinking and she had been challenged by a friend to race to one of the yellow marker buoys that could be seen from the beach.
‘The woman and her friend entered the water and began swimming, but got into serious difficulty, swallowing water part way out to the buoy.’
He said the woman’s friends and passers-by got the woman onto the beach before the lifeboat crew and a St John Ambulance team gave her oxygen. She was then taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, by ambulance.
Mr Gent said the woman was ‘drifting in and out of consciousness and struggling to breathe.’