COASTGUARD bosses have issued a stark warning for people not to go swimming under the influence of alcohol.
It comes after the Hartlepool RNLI inshore lifeboat was scrambled at 9pm last night to a group of three men who had entered the water off Seaton Carew.
Coastguard bosses say the men had been drinking before one of them decided to go for a swim.
His friends, who had started to grow increasingly concerned about how far out their friend was swimming, decided to go after him.
A passer-by walking along the beach saw what was happening and called 999.
The lifeboat was scrambled and quickly located the three men, who had turned back and were swimming to the shore.
The men had gone about 300ft out to sea.
A spokesman for the Humber Coastguard said: “Our motto is do not drink and drown.
“People are putting themselves at great risk if they go swimming under the influence of alcohol because their bodies are not up to it and they can easily get into difficulty.
“It is also far safer for other people not to enter the water and to instead call 999 and wait for assistance.”
Hartlepool Coastguard teams on the ground were also called to the incident.