The devastated boyfriend of one of the British women swept out to sea while on holiday in Spain said he does not know how to break the tragic news to her two children.
Mother-of-two Lisa Coggins and her friend Tracey Aston have been named in reports as the two women who died in the Mediterranean as it was hit by four-metre large waves.
They were with three friends and had been posing for pictures on the beach at Lloret de Mar - a popular resort on the Costa Brava where they had been enjoying a girls' holiday - when tragedy struck in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Post-mortem investigations into how the pair died are expected to begin today, with members of Mrs Aston's grieving family said to have flown out to Barcelona to bring her back.
According to a friend of Mrs Aston's, the group had only gone to the water's edge to pose for a photograph - not to swim.
Meanwhile, speaking from his home in Birmingham, Ms Coggins's boyfriend Mario Sassano, 36, told the Birmingham Mail she was with her sisters and her friend when tragedy struck.
He said: "She had two children. We do not know how the news will be broken to them."
He paid tribute to his girlfriend, describing her as a "hard-working girl - just beautiful".
Josep Lluis-Llirinos, the elected chief of police at Lloret de Mar, told the Press Association the women, who were all from Birmingham, ignored warnings not to go in the sea, which had a red flag because of the rough conditions.
They partially stripped and were taking photos and attempting to swim when two of them were swept over by a large wave at around 4.15am on Thursday morning.
One made it back to shore and another dived in to try to rescue her other friend, but they both died in the turbulent waters.
He said: "A man who worked at a beach bar told them 'please don't go in the water, the water is very dangerous. Please don't swim and leave the beach because the waves are very big'.
"They ignored him and took some pictures.
"When the two girls approached the water they took some clothes off and they were trying to swim or maybe paddle.
"They kept getting closer and closer to the water.
"One of the women got very, very close to the water and the second one did the same. Then came a very, very big wave.
"The wave knocked them over. One of the girls was eaten by the wave."
He said one of the women toppled by the wave made it back to shore, and her friend dived in to try to rescue the other, but they were both swept out to sea.
The security guard at the beach bar called the police and emergency services were on the scene within minutes.
Search and rescue boats and helicopters were scrambled to find the women, but they were swept away by the sea within seconds.
The chief of police said: "There was a strong current. It was a question of seconds and they were washed away.
"We knew every moment they were out there it was more difficult to find them alive."
He said whether the women had been drinking before the tragedy was a matter of investigation.
Their three friends were given psychological care by the authorities. And he warned that holidaymakers should be very careful of the sea, especially in rough conditions.
He said: "The red flags were out. It was unthinkable that anybody could go out and swim in those very, very bad conditions.
"It was a sad day for the town. Our condolences go out to the families."
A friend of Mrs Aston's family said the group had gone into the sea not to swim, but to take a photo, when one of them got into difficulty.
The woman, who declined to be named, said: "The family are in Barcelona right now.
"Everybody says she was out there swimming - she wasn't.
"They were standing in there trying to take a photo and the waves took them out.
"The family want to be left alone right now.
"Some of them have gone over to bring back her body."
Salvamento Maritimo, the Spanish search and rescue team, said the bodies of the women, believed to be aged 33 and 36, had been taken to the neighbouring town of Blanes, 40 miles north of Barcelona.