Man died skinny dipping at Cornwall beach after huge wave broke neck

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Man died skinny dipping on Cornwall beach after wave broke neck


A man on holiday in Cornwall died after he went skinny dipping with friends and a huge wave broke his neck.

Harry Swordy, 27, a teaching assistant from South Devon, and three other friends stripped off for a New Year's Eve swim in the sea at Loe Bar Beach, near Porthleven, at around 1am on 1st January 2014.

But as they entered the sea, they were hit by an enormous wave that knocked them off their feet. Three of the friends managed to make it back to shore, but Mr Swordy was swept out to sea.

His body was discovered washed up on the Porthleven Beach by a walker at 8.40am the following morning.

An inquest this week at Cornwall Coroner's Court heard how Loe Bar Beach is known as an "extremely dangerous place to swim" and had warning signs not to enter the water.

According to the Plymouth Herald, one RNLI rescuer described the conditions at the time as "some of the worst I have ever seen in my career", with waves of between 15 and 21 feet and severe gale winds of force nine.

Mr Swordy had been among a group of 23 friends staying at Chyvarloe Bunkhouse, a National Trust holiday cottage located on a track leading to the beach at Loe Bar.

The friends arrived at around 6.30pm on New Year's Eve and enjoyed a few drinks and a meal together.

At around 1am, six members of the group decided to go down to the beach for a paddle in the sea, although some warned they thought it was too rough.

Two friends stayed on the beach and watched, while four went swimming.

According to the Mid Devon Star, Mr Swordy's friend Jonathan Burgess, who was among the skinny dippers, told the inquest in Truro: "As we entered a wave had just broken and washed up the beach. A bigger wave broken and we saw Harry and [another friend] disappear. Then myself and Olly were knocked over."

Three of the men managed to return to shore, but Harry disappeared. The friends looked for him, but he could not be found despite a search throughout the night by coastguards, police, lifeboats and a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose.

Coroner Dr Ema Carlyon ruled his death as accidental.

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