Terrifying Near Drowning Caught On Camera

"I think she was going under for the last time."

The terrifying moment a woman almost drowned on an empty Sydney beach has been captured by a photographer nearby.

The woman was swimming in three-metre swell on Bronte Beach in the early hours of Thursday morning, before the daily lifesaver patrol was due to start.

The woman was gasping for air as she battled huge swell, caught in a rip off Bronte Beach in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. Photo: Getty.

"We were actually just looking out and checking the conditions to see how we would set up the beach and a massive set rolled in and I I actually joked I wouldn't want to be out in that today," said surf lifesaver Andrew Reid to the Daily Mail.

It was just before 7am, and suddenly Reid noticed the woman was struggling in the rough surf. He ran towards the rocks near where was, while another surf life saver, Troy Stewart, paddled out through a rip to get to her.

Surf Life Savers and members of the public crowd around the rescue as the woman is brought into shore. Photo: Getty.

Stewart got there first, and in the nick of time.

"I've seen a lot of people drown, and I can say I think she was going under for the last time," said Reid.

"But then Troy got to her and pulled her up, it was amazing to see."

A third surf life saver, Anthony Carroll, pulled the woman onto his rescue board and paddled her through the rough swell and into shore.

Anthony 'Harries' Carroll paddles the woman into shore. Photo: Getty.

The distraught woman was "screaming", said Reid, but gave her rescuers a huge hug and kiss.

Photo: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

"I believe she truly thought she was going to die out there," said Reid.

He told the publication that he believes she swam at the beach most mornings, but that "the ocean is a treacherous thing."

The woman clings to her rescuer. Photo: Getty.

There were 291 fatal drownings in Australia in the 12 months leading to 20 June 2017, of which 50 occurred at the beach.

An estimated further 685 people experienced non-fatal drowning events requiring hospitalisation that year, which can have life-altering consequences.

Source: Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2017.

Surf Life Saving Australia advises to always swim between the red and yellow flags and during patrol times, read the safety signs, swim with a friend, and to ask a lifesaver if you're feeling unsure.

"Be aware of water conditions and the limitations of your own skills and fitness," said the Royal Life Saving Society.