The man was bathing in a supervised swimming area in Labenne in the Landes department in Aquitaine in south-western France
A British father has been killed in a freak accident after being hit by a huge powerful wave while swimming at a French beach, in the Landes department in South West France.
The 36-year-old, who has been named as Rob Walton, is a rugby coach with Rugby Lions from Hinckley in Leicestershire, suffered fatal whiplash on Monday when a powerful “shore break” struck his spine.
He was on holiday with his wife and four children at a campsite in Labenne, Landes. Parademics spent about an hour trying to resuscitate him, after they were called to the popular surfing spot at about 2pm yesterday.
A fellow swimmer raised the alarm when his body was spotted floating in the water. The beach was manned by lifeguards and local witnesses say the sea conditions were not particularly hazardous.
The 60 miles of Landes beaches, facing the Atlantic, boast waves of worldwide fame and the area contains the largest number of surf spots in Europe. But although the current was described as “strong”, witnesses said the sea was not particularly rough on Monday.
Lionel Couture, director of services at Labenne Town Hall told a local newspaper that officials do not yet know the exact cause of death. “We do not yet know the cause of the drowning because no autopsy has taken place,” he was quoted as saying.
“He may have fallen ill while swimming, which can happen or he may have been hit by a wave. When he was brought of the water he was in an advanced state of drowning.”
Mr Couture said the sea was “strong”, but added: “A death like this in summer is extremely rare. They do occur in winter when swimmers take to the sea.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We can confirm the death of a British National in France on 10 August. We are in contact with the family to offer support at this difficult time.”
Lifeguards on the Atlantic coast intervene about 20 times a day to treat victims of “shore break” – a strong wave close to the shore that can project a swimmer down to the ground with force, causing injuries to the spine, shoulders or knees.