Santa Clarita surfer rescued by lifeguards in Ventura

VENTURA, Calif. (KABC) -- Santa Clarita resident Christian Saco, an experienced swimmer who's been surfing for years, says he hasn't seen swells so big in nearly a decade.

"There were some (waves) out there that were easily like 10 feet," he said.

He says he almost drowned Wednesday morning after being tossed around like a rag doll in the violent surf.

"I just got caught in the current and it pulled me through the pier. I tried, I was doing my best out there and all of a sudden I just got sucked in," said Saco.

People on the pier noticed Saco was in trouble and flagged down lifeguards who sprinted into action. One lifeguard dove into the ocean from the pier.

"I am a pretty good swimmer. I've been surfing all my life. I've never been caught like this. But it was a little frightening. Luckily these guys, these heroes over here, pulled me out," said Saco.

Lifeguard Taylor Garrett rescued Saco.

"He said that he was pretty exhausted and he wasn't going to be able to make it back in on his own," said Garrett. "He was in a pretty bad spot at the time, for sure, because he was a couple hundred yards out."

Garrett says he calmed Saco down and told him to paddle south out of the path of the strong current. They both made it to shore.

"He was calm, cool and collected the whole time and it worked out for the best," said Garrett.

"Respect the ocean. Just be careful out there," said Saco.

Lifeguards say the tragic death of a fellow lifeguard who rescued a swimmer in Newport Beach last month shows that even they are not safe when the ocean is dangerous.

They are warning people to stay out of the water in Ventura for the next several days.

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