10 January 2015
Last updated at 21:18
The emergency services searched for the missing men until 04:30 GMT
A body has been recovered and another man is feared drowned in the sea off the coast of Brighton, in what Sussex Police have described as a “dare”.
The body has been identified as that of Freddie Reynolds, 24, a dispensary technician from Brighton.
Dan Nicholls, 23, is still missing but is thought to have drowned following a night out with friends in the city.
The pair got into difficulty near Palace Pier at 01:00 GMT on Saturday, police believe.
They had been on the beach with three other men, who raised the alarm.
Freddie Reynolds went into the water to help Dan Nicholls, who had approached the water’s edge as part of a dare, Sussex Police said.
A member of the public found Mr Reynolds’ body at Saltdean, four miles east of the pier, on Saturday afternoon.
Det Ch Insp Carwyn Hughes said: “This is a tragic incident and we are supporting Freddie and Dan’s families.”
Mr Nicholls and Mr Reynolds, both from Brighton, were school friends and used to share a flat together, their families said.
In a statement, Mr Reynolds’ family said his loss would leave a “huge void in a lot of people’s lives” and described him as “a very loyal and brilliant friend”.
Mr Nicholls was described by his family as “very bright” and “well-loved by many”.
Det Ch Insp Hughes said the search for Mr Nicholls would continue on Sunday.
The Shoreham lifeboat was partially damaged because of the strong waves
He told how Mr Nicholls had been knocked off his feet by a wave, sweeping him out to sea, according to his friends who witnessed the incident.
“On seeing this, Freddie, with another friend, started to strip and Freddie dived in to rescue Dan but was also swept out,” said Det Ch Insp Hughes.
“Their shocked friends tried to enter the water but were beaten back by the waves.
“Tragically they saw Dan and Freddie together before they lost sight of them and called for the help of emergency services.”
Det Ch Insp Hughes said the friends had discussed the dare before seeing the ferocity of the waves.
He emphasised the need to stay away from the sea in severe weather.
The search had been co-ordinated throughout the night by the coastguard with two all-weather lifeboats, a rescue helicopter and two shoreline rescue teams from Shoreham and Newhaven.
It was called off at 04:30 GMT.
Volunteer lifeboat crews resumed searches close to the shoreline at first light, although the helicopter crews returned to base having “exhausted all possible options”, the coastguard said.
Earlier, a coastguard spokesman said: “The conditions for searching overnight were awful – it was pitch black and the sea was extremely choppy. It was very difficult to search.
“The helicopter and the all-weather lifeboats searched the area overnight but started to stand down at about 04:30. They felt they had done all they could.”