A body found on the beach on Sunday morning is that of missing Dan Nicholls who was swept out to sea after standing by the water's edge for a dare, police have confirmed.
The 23-year-old has been formally identified as the man found on the beach in Rottingdean, near Brighton, at 8.10am today.
Mr Nicholls got into difficulty after being knocked off his feet in "dangerous" gale force nine conditions by a wave near the Palace Pier on Brighton beach during the early hours of yesterday morning, Sussex Police said.
The body of his friend Freddie Reynolds, 24, who went into the water to try to rescue Mr Nicholls, was found in the surf on Saltdean beach, four miles east of the pier, by a member of the public at 2.25pm yesterday, police said. WORDS: PA
Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes said the search for the men was now over and that Mr Nicholls' family and friends were extremely relieved that his body had been found.
In a statement released through Sussex Police, they said: "We are immensely grateful to the police and rescue services who have been both professional and supportive in very difficult circumstances.
"We are also grateful for all the expressions of love and support from so many who knew Dan.
"Such a tragedy touches so many lives and our hearts go out to all who have been affected by the sad loss of Freddie and Dan."
Mr Hughes said: "We are relieved that the bodies of the two men have been recovered.
"This has been a traumatic weekend for Dan and Freddie's friends and family.
"What was meant to be a bit of fun turned out so tragically with Dan snatched from the water's edge and Freddie bravely diving in to try to save him.
"Our sympathies go to their families, whom we are supporting.
"I want to thank those who braved the terrible conditions to search night and day for the two men.
"The dedicated crews include coastal rescue services, volunteers from Sussex Search and Rescue team, seafront officers and specialist search officers.
"I also want to thank the initial police response team, my investigation team and family liaison officers who have supported the families throughout the weekend.
"We will now complete the investigation on behalf of the coroner.
"This is a tragic incident and I urge people to think of their safety and keep away from the sea when it is so dangerous."
Mr Reynolds' family praised his "bravery" after formally identifying his body yesterday.
They said: "We are devastated but also extremely proud of Freddie and the bravery he showed in trying to save Dan."
Mr Hughes said initial investigations by officers found that Mr Nicholls had volunteered to stand by the sea as part of a dare following a night out in Brighton to celebrate one of his friends emigrating.
He said: ""Five of the friends went to the seafront and Dan took up the dare and was at the water's edge when we are told a wave hit him, knocking him off his feet and he was taken out to sea.
"On seeing this Freddie, with another friend, started to strip and Freddie dived in to rescue Dan but was also swept out.
"Their shocked friends tried to enter the water but were beaten back by the waves.
"Tragically, they saw Dan and Freddie together before they lost sight of them and called for the help of emergency services."
Mr Nicholls and Mr Reynolds, both from Brighton, were old school friends who used to share a flat together, their families said.
Mr Reynolds, who worked as a dispensary technician at a chemist, was described as a "very loyal and brilliant friend" who people "loved" to be around.
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