The search for a swimmer reportedly struggling in the surf at Raglan has been called off.

Waikato police Senior Sergeant Andrew Townsend said it appears a French lifeguard had put his hand up as the person seen in the water after admitting he got caught in a rip about 11.50am.

"A member of the public has seen someone struggling to stay afloat at Manu Bay and has phoned police. They have attended along with Coastguard and while ambulance and air support were being called a member who was a French lifeguard put his hand up that he was swimming out there at the time and got caught in a rip and said 'I think you're looking for me'."

Mr Townsend said the lifeguard was able to safely swim out of the rip himself and back to shore.


"It seems to resonate with what the witness saw because he was wearing a red rash vest, too."

Mr Townsend said they hadn't had any other people reported missing and officially called off the search at 4.20pm

The Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter said it was dispatched to join the search at Raglan this afternoon.

"An extensive search of the area, found no trace of a swimmer, however the effort continued until an individual presented himself and confirmed that he was indeed the person that was reported in the specific area of the sighting," the rescue service said in a statement.

"The helicopter is routinely deployed in these cases, as the platform affords an excellent vantage for covering large areas during a search.

"Confident that the situation was resolved, the search was concluded at about 3pm."

Raglan Surf Lifesaving Club president Andrew Withers said he didn't have any French lifeguards on his duty but thought he may be visiting from Muriwai Surf Life Saving Club as it was involved in an exchange programme with a French club.

Mr Withers said recent weather had created a new and dangerous rip to the left of the lifeguard tower - towards Manu Bay.


"With our sand that has been sucked off the beach, we've lost a good metre or so of sand, depth-wise. It's made a really big rip to the left of our tower which has made our beach quite dangerous at the moment, especially on an outgoing tide."

The tide was going out when the lifeguard briefly got into trouble, he said.

The new rip had been at the beach for about a month but said it could get moved with the storm set to hit the area over the next few days.

The beach experienced three metre swells today but tomorrow swells were expected to be about four metres.