Search under way for SFSU student who vanished while swimming at a Pacifica beach

A man went missing at Pacifica’s Esplanade Beach, shown in 2021, while swimming in the waters.

A man went missing at Pacifica’s Esplanade Beach, shown in 2021, while swimming in the waters.

Justin Sullivan, Staff / Getty Images

First responders are searching the coastal waters off of Pacifica for a San Francisco State University student who went missing Thursday morning while swimming in the ocean, according to police.

Officers and firefighters responded to reports of a swimmer in distress around 10:30 a.m. at Esplanade Beach and found two men who said their friend was struck by a large wave and pulled away from the shore, Pacifica police said. The two men were able to get to shore and call authorities.

Rescue crews — including the U.S. Coast Guard, California State Parks, the California Highway Patrol, and the San Bruno Police Department — were unable to locate the missing swimmer Thursday afternoon, police added.

The missing swimmer was last seen wearing black shorts and is described as being 6 foot 1 inch tall and 215 pounds, authorities said. His identity has not been released.

San Francisco State administration confirmed Thursday afternoon the swimmer is a student at the university.

“We are aware of reports of a search for an SF State student in the waters off Pacifica,” SFSU’s statement read. “The entire SF State community is hoping for a safe recovery. Our thoughts are with the student’s family, friends and classmates.”

On Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued two coastal hazard alerts that will extend till Monday — one due to king tides and the other is the enhanced risk of sneaker waves and rip currents .

King tides are exceptionally high tides that are 1 to 2 feet higher than the average high tide. Sneaker waves are forceful and potentially deadly extreme waves that suddenly strike a beach and can sweep people off sand and into the ocean. And rip currents are narrow channels of fast moving water in the ocean that can quickly pull swimmers far from shore.

The alerts, NWS forecaster Brooke Bingaman said, come just as drier conditions are forecast for this weekend and as king tides inundate beaches.

The NWS has also issued a Beach Hazard Statement that takes effect from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon to warn beach goers of the “increased risk of sneaker waves and strong rip currents along the coast, especially for northwest facing beaches,” from Point Reyes to Big Sur.

“People need to realize there are hazards with the ocean this weekend,” she said. “The king tides, the incoming swells plus the fact that there are many beaches that still have a lot of debris from all the rain — logs and branches that may be in the water.”

Joel Umanzor (he/him) is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: