A GROUP of jet skiers saved the life of an elderly swimmer who was found exhausted clinging to a buoy 200 meters off Sandbanks Beach, the RNLI says.

Lifeboat volunteers said the man, a 76-year-old, would almost certainly have died if it wasn’t for the actions of the two passing jet skis.

Witnesses said the man, who had been in the sea for around an hour, was being violently sick after swallowing so much saltwater and had started to “drop below the surface” as they rushed to his aid.

Ben Williams, from Blandford,who was being towed on his paddleboard behind one of the two jet skis involved in the rescue, told the Daily Echo: “This guy was not far off when I got to him, he was in a really bad way.”

The 33-year-old contract manager, who works for a plumbing and heating company, explained: “This guy was so lucky I was on a paddle board, because we were so far out, well past where any swimmers ever go.

“I was being pulled along behind the jet ski on my paddle board. We were just having a bit of fun and were going along really slowly.

“I could just hear this faint call for help.”

After looking around Ben spotted the swimmer clinging to the buoy and quickly started shouting for his friend, Ross Walker, to stop the jet ski.

“But he couldn’t hear me, so I had to yank the rope to make Ross turn around,” said Ben. “Then I made my way to the guy and his head was going under as I got to him. I pulled his head up and asked him if it was alright for me to hold onto him.

“I’m quite a strong swimmer, and I was in a wetsuit, but there was one hell of a tide out there.

“The guy couldn’t grip onto anything, he was so tried.”

Another of Ben’s friends on a second jet ski also came to help, before they managed to raise the alarm.

The RNLI was called to the drama, which unfolded adjacent to Shore Road, Sandbanks, at 7pm on Sunday.

Poole RNLI spokesman Anne Marie explained: “The jet skiers were actually using their skis to keep the man’s head above the water, they were using their jet skis as support.

“He was clinging on to the buoy, calling for help. Fortunately these two jet skiers were in the vicinity and responded to his calls.”

The man was transferred to the lifeboat, given emergency medical care - including oxygen - and taken to shore.

Meanwhile, volunteer RNLI lifeboat crewman ‘Huggy’ Huggins, who took part in the rescue, told the Echo: “This chap just wanted to go for a swim, he wasn’t drunk in any way, nothing silly, he just wanted to go for a swim and got into trouble.

“He believed he’d been in the water for about an hour. The paddle boarder told us the chap had started to go under, that shows how serious it was.

“If those jet skiers had not been around, this man would definitely not be here today.”

It is hoped the elderly swimmer will make a full recovery.