A 68-year-old man has died in a popular ocean swimming event at Mt Maunganui.

Police said this morning that the man's cause of death was still to be determined.

St John confirmed two vehicles attended an emergency incident before noon where a person was given treatment but died at the scene.

St John ambulance said it was called to the incident at 11.49am.


Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter pilot Liam Brettkelly said the helicopter had been called to help find a missing swimmer near Leisure Island. The swimmer was an Auckland man in his 60s, he said.

He was found by Surf Lifesaving personnel, Mr Brettkelly said, and the rescue helicopter guided a rescue boat to the scene.

The swimmer was brought ashore and CPR was carried out by ambulance staff and lifeguards.

"Sadly, he died on the scene," Mr Brettkelly said.

The man was taking part in the Sand to Surf ocean swim series.

Categories in the annual swimming event range from a 200m children's race to a 2.6km event for ages 12 and over.

Mt Maunganui's lifeguard service directed enquiries to the police - who said a swimmer was reported missing earlier in the day.

"We had a report of a missing swimmer at around 11:25 this morning. Officers arrived and the swimmer had been found on the beach with paramedics. He subsequently died," a police spokeswoman said.

A person has died following an incident in the water at Mt Maunganui this morning.
A person has died following an incident in the water at Mt Maunganui this morning.

"That's a matter for the coroner and the cause of his death is being investigated."

The annual Sand to Surf swim was taking place at Mt Maunganui's Main Beach this morning.

Event director of the ocean swim, Scott Rice, also confirmed the man had been part of the event.

"A person was rescued from the water in one of our swims. They brought them to the beach, first aid was performed and he was placed in an ambulance," Rice said.

"I know no more from there."

The competition's first event, the long swim, started at 9.45am and was a 2.6km swim around Moturiki (Leisure Island) and Motuotau (Rabbit Island). All other events of the day were cancelled following the swimmer's death.

A witness said she saw an older male being taken up onto the beach from the water, where CPR was performed on him.