A Papamoa lifeguard who rescued seven people in one day has shrugged it off as being all in a day's work.

Laura Weston rescued a group of five people and a further two swimmers who got caught in rips on Monday.

The arrival of a 1.5m to 1.8m swell produced 3m-high facing waves to the Bay coastline, as well as powerful undertows and strong rips.

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The 23-year-old was on patrol when she noticed five people, including a mother and son, being dragged out into the larger surf by a flash rip while swimming between the flags.

Weston grabbed a rescue board and paddled through the churning surf to get to the group.

She found the five were unaware of the danger they were in but started to panic when they realised they were in trouble.

"Two of them were quite close to going under," Weston said. "The water was moving quite quickly and they [a mother and son] were heading out to sea quite fast ... it probably wasn't going to end well but thankfully it did."

She helped keep them stay afloat and then assisted them to shore.

Once on shore, she noticed two further swimmers caught in a rip and rescued them.

They moved the flagged area after the rescues.

Weston has been a lifeguard for nine years and said the seven rescues was the most she had done in a day.

She was modest about her efforts on the beach.

"That is why we are here," she said. "That is what we train for."

Laura Weston said she spotted a group in trouble and had to act fast. Photo / George Novak
Laura Weston said she spotted a group in trouble and had to act fast. Photo / George Novak

Weston said an extra lifeguard was rostered on for the long weekend at Papamoa Beach because of the conditions and the fine weather which brought large crowds to the beach.

"With the conditions we have at the moment, lots of holes open up suddenly, and people can no longer touch the bottom," Weston said.

"Flash rips happen so quickly it is important for people to listen to lifeguards when they are told to move ... we move the flags quite often because we want people to be swimming in the safest part of the beach."

Water Safety New Zealand chief Jonty Mills said a rip could be recognised by sand-coloured or rippled water running out to sea and generally cleaner water on either side.
"If you should get caught in one, don't panic and swim against it," he said. "Stay calm, float on your back until the current weakens."

Mills said swimmers should raise their hand and call for help. "When the current has subsided, swim parallel to the beach before returning to shore," he said.

One person had drowned in a Bay of Plenty river this year.