29 Nov 2015

Search continues for missing swimmer

5:10 pm on 29 November 2015

The search for the body of a 17-year-old swimmer who is presumed drowned at Raglan Beach has stopped for the day.

Raglan surf break

Raglan surf break Photo: Hamilton and Waikato Tourism

Cory Edgecome-Lilley was swimming with three friends about 4pm on Thursday when he disappeared, and two of his friends got into trouble in a rip.

Sergeant Phil Bell of the Waikato Police Search and Rescue Squad said the two friends were taken to hospital after swallowing water.

A fixed wing air patrol and lifesavers searched the area today, but found nothing, Mr Bell said.

A police helicopter would resume the search in the morning.

"Raglan [Surf] Lifesaving Club have done a very extensive search and have gone as far Limestone Downs in the IRBs [inflatable rescue boats] and they've gone down to the Indicators, which is a high area where we're expecting Cory to come up.

"They've walked the coastline from the main surf beach around to Manu Bay and around to Whale Bay and another group has walked the coastline at Ruapuke Beach.

"A bit disappointing we haven't found him at this stage, but we are still holding out hope."

Police were working closely with the family, some of whom had continued their own search today.

Mr Bell said it was a disappointing that searchers had not found Cory at this stage, but were still holding out hope that he would be found.

"We need to be looking at low tide... in case he's in behind the rocks or down in the rocks within the tide zone."

He said swimming conditions were bad at the time Cory went missing and the teenager was not a strong swimmer.

"Further out from the beach there was a huge surf running, conditions had improved [since Tuesday], but there was still a fairly big swell coming through ... they went swimming at the southern end of the beach where there's a regular rip that forms with the outgoing tide and that's what caught this party when they were swimming.

Mr Bell said Raglan beach was usually only patrolled at the weekends or full time in summer so there was no lifesaver on duty.

"This incident took place within 500m of where the surf tower is. Unfortunately it was unmanned at that time, but that would have been a good indicator to say that's where the boys should have gone swimming as opposed to the far end of the beach.

His understanding was the only swimming lessons the teenager had received was at primary school. "Probably for our New Zealand coastal conditions there wouldn't be too many people I would consider to be competent swimmers to take on a reasonable surf - and certainly rips - that have been trained just through their primary school swimming."

The search will continue until Tuesday when it will be reviewed.