Age proved no barrier for a crew of lifesavers as the team of middle-aged members saved a woman in distress from "certain death".

Adrian Barclay and his crew aren't your stereotypical surf lifesavers. The long blonde locks and ripped physiques have been replaced by grey hairs and beer bellies.

The crew of five over 40s were on the last patrol of the summer at the weekend when they saw a swimmer signalling inside the sandbar.

Strong swells had created some pretty "gnarly conditions," Mr Barclay said and the swimmer was being swept along the beach.

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"She was waving her hands so we were not sure if she was in trouble but as the waving got more frantic we realised she needed help," Mr Barclay said.

He and his teammates sprang into action

Mr Barclay was getting a tube for the woman and the crew readying the rescue boat when they spotted a surfer in the waves and pointed him in the direction of the woman.

She clung to his board as she waited for the crew in the inflatable rescue boat to arrive.

Mr Barclay believes had it not been for the surfer the IRB may not have arrived in time.

"I have no doubt she would've died," he said.

The woman was strongly shaken by the ordeal.

"She was in a sorry state, she was in shock and just exhausted."

Mr Barclay said the woman had used all her energy to stay afloat and was "totally spent."

He and his crew spent about 45 minutes with the woman after the rescue.

The Napier solicitor is a member of the surfboat crew and while he admits having a few nerves as the body isn't what it was at 17, he is still in "reasonable shape."

"I swim most mornings and doing surf boat keeps me quite fit."

While the team had been present for rescues before, it was the first time they had saved a swimmer from the surf.

"It was a pretty amazing feeling."

Mr Barclay's wife Vicky said her children take the mickey out of their father for joining the club at his age.

She said for a bunch of blokes over 45 they did a pretty good job.

"They might not fit the mould, but they did what they had to do," she said.