Hopes were fading today for a man who went missing while swimming off the Dorset coast.

The man, aged in his 20s and from London, was one of three people who went swimming at Man O' War Beach to the east of Durdle Door early on Sunday evening.

They had swam to the rocks just off shore and were returning to the beach when one of them got into difficulty and disappeared under the water, about 30 metres from the beach.

It prompted a major and intensive search of the area involving numerous rescue units. That search continued yesterday.

HM Coastguard received a 999 call from a member of the public at 5.45pm on Sunday who said his brother had gone under the water and disappeared.

Two Coastguard rescue helicopters were sent along with Weymouth RNLI inshore and all weather lifeboats and Swanage RNLI lifeboat to undertake an intensive search of the area where the man was last seen.

Lulworth, Kimmeridge and Wyke Coastguard Rescue Teams also searched from the shoreline and scanned the area rom the cliffs while police officers also made enquiries and ambulance paramedics were also on scene.

Bournemouth Echo:

Picture: Kimmeridge Coastguard

A spokesman for Lulworth Coastguard said: "Three men had swam to the rocks just off shore.

"On their return to the beach one had disappeared, around 30 metres from the beach."

The spokesman told how inshore and offshore searches were conducted by the different rescue units as helicopters searched the wider area.

They added: "As light started to fall Wyke Coastguard team arrived, joining the coastguard two teams as they reassembled.

"Three search teams were formed and concentrated their efforts from Scratchy Bottom to Dungy Head.

"With no trace of the man and low light levels, the search was suspended for the night. The three teams debriefed at our station and were stood down shortly before 10.30pm

"Our thoughts are with the man's family and friends at this very difficult time."

Shoreline searches were conducted yesterday, below, with coastguard teams assisting police officers.

Bournemouth Echo:

Picture: Kimmeridge Coastguard

Kimmeridge Coastguard said: "The search resumed after Kimmeridge, Lulworth and Wyke Coastguard teams along with senior coastal operation officers were tasked to Durdle Door to continue in the search for a swimmer that went missing.

"Extensive shoreline searches were carried out throughout most of the day.

"Unfortunately again nothing has been found and investigations continue."

Wyke Coastguard said: "Wyke joined Lulworth Coastguard Rescue Team and Kimmeridge Coastguard in the continued search for the missing swimmer. Various searches around Durdle Door were carried out over a 4 hour period as the tide approached low water.

"Unfortunately these searches proved unsuccessful.

"Our thoughts are with family and friends at this sad time."

Chief Inspector Stu Pitman, of Dorset Police, said: “Searches are continuing (Monday) in the area to try and locate the missing man.

“I would urge anyone with information that may assist our enquiries to please get in touch.”

Dorset Police could not say whether further searches would be carried out today.

Anyone with information or knowledge as to the missing swimmer's whereabouts is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting incident number 21:331.