FOUR international tourists owe their lives to three men who happened to be in the right place when the visitors decided to go for a swim at the wrong time.
Surf lifesavers had packed up for the day at Marcoola Beach on Wednesday when six men staying in the area went for a swim.
But it was not long before their afternoon dip turned to trouble.
Friends and co-workers Blake Cole, of Mudjimba, and Damon Bell, of Marcoola, had only just arrived for a fish at the beach when they saw the group in the surf.
They thought nothing of it until a surfer, believed to be from the area, ran to his car to grab his surfboard to use as a flotation device.
"That's when we realised it was fair dinkum and they were in trouble," Mr Bell said.
"Before that we thought it was just people mucking around in the surf."
The pair then sprang into action.
Mr Bell, 28, swam to the man closest to shore and brought him in.
Mr Cole, 27, went about 100 metres out to the man furthest away and in the most trouble.
The surfer then returned and managed to get two other men on to his surfboard.
The remaining two got themselves back to shore.
The man Mr Cole rescued was the hardest to get in.
"He was a big guy and the waves were going over our heads," he said.
"We were out there about 20 minutes swimming. My feet couldn't touch the ground.
"It felt like someone was slicing my lungs with a razor blade, but I just had to keep swimming.
"I thought we could have died out there."
That was when Mr Bell swam back out to help his friend.
Together, they eventually managed to bring in the man.
"We were struggling with him the whole way," Mr Bell said.
"It was a constant fight. It was very scary.
"When we got him in he had to be carried.
"He couldn't walk. He was unconscious."
This man was treated by paramedics on the beach and taken to Nambour General Hospital in a stable condition.
"I'm not trying to say we're heroes but I reckon if we didn't bring him in I don't think he would have made it," Mr Cole said.
Mr Cole and Mr Bell, who work together at Nature's Cutting Board, said they had no hesitation in going to the rescue and would do it again.
Mr Cole is no stranger to rescues.
Last year he and his girlfriend assisted in the rescue of two men whose boat ran into trouble on the Noosa River bar.
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