THE dramatic moment a drowning man was dragged from the sea by rescuers was captured on video.

Shocked onlookers watched as the man disappeared under the water several times as rescuers paddled towards him as fast as they could.

The exhausted man was dragged towards the shore holding on to a body board before being carried up the beach.

He then collapsed and vomited for several minutes before ambulance crews arrived at the scene to take care of him.

The incident unfolded on Southbourne beach, near Portman Ravine, at about 4pm on Sunday.

A group of men were swimming around 30 metres from the shore when they got into difficulty and started to shout for help.

Southbourne resident Richard Crump was swimming nearby with his wife and son when he heard the calls for help.

He told the Daily Echo: “I heard a cry for help and I could see the men were clearly out of their depth.

“I grabbed my goggles and my son’s body board and paddled out to the nearest chap. He kept going under the water and I was just hoping I would get to him on time.”

Richard, an experienced sea swimmer, added: “I told him to grab hold of the board and luckily he had enough of his senses left to hold on tight. Another man helped me get him on to the beach.”

The man was then carried up the beach and placed on the sand.

“At first I thought he was fine” added Richard. “He said a couple of words but then he became very unresponsive. Lifeguards then arrived and rescued other people from the water.”

Lifeguards and beach staff covered the men in towels and blankets until two ambulances arrived.

Richard, an IT consultant, added: “It could have been very different. I think people need to realise the sea at Southbourne is not as safe as it looks.”

The video was taken by Andy R, who was trying out new camera equipment from the cliff top.

He said: “It was a horrible thing to witness. I felt helpless as it took a few minutes for people to react to his cries for help. I feel that if they were a few moments later to rescue him, then he could have drowned.”

Coastguards regularly issue advice to people heading to the beach.

They urge anyone going in the sea to consider their personal fitness and to remember the water around the UK coast is cold.

People should also take account of waves and tides.