Four rowers were rescued from biting temperatures in the River Thames after they capsized in an attempt to avoid a collision with a vessel.
Chiswick RNLI crew, who were cleaning their lifeboat moored at Chiswick Pier, spotted the rowers in some difficulty downstream and launched the rescue mission - marking the 3,000 callout in its 14-year history.
The rowers were swept by the strong current onto a large buoy after taking action to avoid a vessel coming upstream, which forced them to tip over into the river, according to the RNLI crew.
Their coach had launched nearby to help another capsized sculler.
RNLI helmsman, Andy Mayo, steered the lifeboat alongside the young rowers, and crew members Gavin Simmons and Holly Walters quickly lifted them on board the lifeboat and wrapped them in blankets to keep warm.
The girls were in good spirits but cold as they were taken back to their base at Tideway scullers near Chiswick Bridge.
Mr Mayo, Chiswick RNLI lifeboat helmsman on the 3,000th callout, joined the RNLI as a volunteer on Dover lifeboat in 1994 and at has been on the crew at Chiswick since the station opened in 2002.
He said: "When the RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames started, no one could have predicted how busy it would be.
"This incident shows how we were able to deal swiftly with a situation that could have had a very different outcome.
"It just shows that the RNLI really is needed on the River Thames and is seen by other authorities as an invaluable service.’
Chiswick RNLI, along with other lifeboat stations on the Thames at Tower, Teddington and Gravesend, was established in January 2002.
The RNLI was approached to provide a dedicated search and rescue service on the Thames in the wake of the enquiry into the Marchioness disaster - a crash between two vessels on the Thames in London on August 20, 1989, which resulted in the death of 51 people who drowned.
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