A 13-YEAR-OLD girl was rescued in the nick of time tonight after going for a swim off Redcar beach.

Her friends raised the alarm at 5.45pm after she began to struggle in the sea, near the café on the Stray.

Both Redcar lifeboats launched within six minutes and the inshore boat Jacky Hunsley, with volunteer helmsman Cameron Bond in charge, was first to arrive.

The girl, from Marske, east Cleveland, was found 150 metres off the beach, conscious, but extremely cold and exhausted.

"The girl was extremely lucky," said Dave Cocks from Redcar RNLI. "The first lifeboat crew on scene believe she was so cold and exhausted that she wouldn't have lasted another five minutes in the sea.

"Our crews are extremely well trained and equipped to deal with incidents such as this."

The girl was given emergency first aid, including oxygen, and transferred to the larger lifeboat Leicester Challenge 2 and brought back to the beach, opposite the lifeboat station.

She received further treatment by the station's doctor, Roger Smith, and paramedics before being taken to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.

Mr Cocks added: "The North Sea is very cold and unforgiving, even at the height of summer, and people should be aware of the consequences of getting out of their depth."

"The RNLI always encourages people to swim in areas of the beach protected by lifeguards and marked by the yellow and red flags.

"On this occasion the outcome was positive. Ignoring basic safety advice could well turn a bit of fun at the beach into a tragedy."