FOUR young children and a man were nearly swept out to sea after trying to swim off the coast.
The incident sparked a major coastguard response, with police, ambulance, the search and rescue helicopter and lifeboat crews rushing to save them.
A group of children and adults had moored a yacht half a mile from the shore at Stokes Bay in Gosport.
But when three of the girls, aged between 10 and 13, jumped in and swam they quickly got into trouble.
As the girls started to drift away from the vessel at Gilkicker, another young girl jumped in to help
James Baggott, from Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service, said this girl was also caught in the tide.
And when a man with the group jumped in to help he too got into trouble.
Another adult on board the yacht then called the coastguard at around 6pm.
The helicopter, launched from Lee-on-the-Solent, police and ambulance were scrambled together with Gafirs.
Luckily, all five had drifted back to the shore and were on the beach.
Mr Baggott said: ‘They were extremely cold and we had a paramedic on board the boat who checked them over.
‘They were found to be safe and well and we reunited them with their group.’
‘This could have been an incredibly nasty situation had the five individuals not found themselves back.
‘They were very, very lucky to make it to the shore and also very lucky that the emergency services could respond so quickly.
‘All of us called tonight were extremely concerned about these people.
‘People do not seem to realise how strong the tides are, especially around the Gilkicker area.
‘They are very strong and can whip swimmers away quite quickly.’