THE peak surf season may have passed, but Kiama Municipal Council supervising lifeguard Jamie Caldwell says swimmers still need to be careful.
With the warmer weather this year came larger crowds. More than 325,000 people descended on the municipality's seven beaches between December 17 and January 28.
"This year was much busier than last year - we actually had a summer instead of a monsoon summer," Mr Caldwell said.
"Rescues were up this year, preventative actions from the lifeguards were up, basically everything was up across the board."
Mr Caldwell said rescuing five people from a rip on the southern end of Bombo Beach on New Year's Day and applying CPR on a diver at Storm Bay on January 2 were among the most challenging incidents.
Illawarra Police Rescue Squad co-ordinator Sergeant Richard Walsh said the two organisations had identified some issues with resourcing and understanding each other's terminology, so they took to the waves off Bombo Beach on jet-skis last Wednesday to build a closer relationship.
The day involved introducing Police Rescue to jet-skis, one-person pick-ups and two-person rescues.
"Hopefully, we don't come across them, but we're preparing for the stuff where we might be dealing with a deceased person and a really complex body retrieval," Mr Caldwell said.
Sergeant Walsh said riding a jet-ski was a new experience for many of his team.
"We're all swift water technicians and this is just an extension of that," he said. "We've had a lot of rock fishermen go [into the water] so if there's a need, they've got the skill set to enter the water safely and be able to assist someone."
With patrols continuing until Anzac Day, Mr Caldwell reminded swimmers to stay at patrolled beaches and swim between the red and yellow flags.
Surf lifesaving clubs will patrol Jones Beach, Surf Beach and Werri Beach on weekends, while Kiama Council lifeguards will patrol Surf Beach on weekdays.