Forty-four people were rescued from a breakwall in the Cape Cod town of Provincetown, Massachusetts on Sunday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The group, which was walking along a popular - but sometimes dangerous - footpath on a breakwall in Provincetown Harbor, became stranded when a king tide came in higher than anticipated.
Water washed over lower parts of the wall.
While most were stranded on the rocks of the breakwall itself, two people reportedly fell into the water and four more jumped in after them to help.
"Two kids and their mother were swept out and another member of their family jumped in to try and help them; they were all in trouble," said Pete Swartz, of Cambridge, Mass., who is a former water polo player who was on the breakwall.
Swartz and his father both entered the water to assist the family.
"We helped them get out and get to the shore, pulling them sideways so that they weren't in the current anymore," said Swartz.
The Coast Guard was notified of the situation by the local fire department at 1:47 p.m. but the USCG boat was too large to access the breakwall.
The harbormaster and TowBoatUS crews were able to rescue all 44 people and bring them to shore where they were attended by emergency medical responders.
Only some minor injuries were reported.
"The harbormaster and TowBoat US crews did a great job responding to so many people in need of help, and we were happy to assist," said USCG Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Glora. "It was an unorthodox response but, in the end, everyone is safe on shore."
Provincetown Harbormaster Rex McKinsey said the Swartz's heroics could have compounded the problem. He said when someone is in the water, it's best to rescue from land by either throwing a rope or tree branch rather than jumping in harms way.