Two swimmers in difficulty near Woolacombe beach were rescued on Friday (July 26) night.

Ilfracombe RNLI's all-weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation was launched at around 6.20pm following reports of swimmers in large waves.

However, both swimmers were rescued by surfers who escorted them back to the beach after a four-metre wave unexpectedly broke over the lifeboat.

The first swimmer had already been rescued by a surfer when the lifeboat arrived and in attempting to help the other swimmer, the lifeboat's wheelhouse was swamped by the wave and two of the crew's lifejackets were set off.

They continued looking for the second swimmer who was helped back to the beach by another surfer.

Both swimmers were taken to the Morthoe and Croyde coastguard station to recover.

Andrew Bengey, RNLI volunteer coxswain, said: "As the main school holiday starts we would advise people to take care when entering the water and take note of local conditions and rip tides.

"Where possible swim at a lifeguarded beach and between the yellow and red flags.

"If you do get into difficulties remember to float rather than fighting the water.

"The RNLI website has lots of good advice to help people enjoy the water safely this summer."