A swimmer drowned after he was swept out to sea at the mouth of the Mokihinui River, north of Westport today.

The 44-year-old Mokihinui man was trying to swim across the river when he got into trouble just after 4pm, said police.

Emergency crews were alerted to the incident by a member of the public.

The man was found this evening about 15 metres from the shore in about 6 feet of water.

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The man's name will not be released until next of kin have been notified.