The body of a swimmer who went missing Friday was found in the water off Ipswich, Massachusetts, after an hourslong search.
Ipswich police said the body was spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter off Grape Island just before 5 p.m.
The Coast Guard had been searching for Eric Pecina, who had gone missing off Crane Beach Friday morning.
Police said Friday evening that the body was identified as that of the missing swimmer, a 24-year-old Ipswich resident, and that his family has been notified.
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The agency said it received a call around 10:30 a.m. from Ipswich police for a possible person in the water. Pecina was trying to swim from Crane Beach to Plum Island when he went missing.
Pecina's backpack was found on the beach around 9:30 a.m. by park rangers, who called Ipswich police. Officers were able to determine the bag's owner and located his car outside the gate to the beach.
“We contacted his friends," Ipswich Police Chief Paul Nikas said while crews were searching Friday. "They indicated he was going for a morning swim which changed us into a water search.
Nikas said Friday evening that the body was found about two miles from where searchers believe Pecina entered the water.
Pecina's friends told police he is from New Jersey but lives in Ipswich. He was wearing only a bathing suit and intended a 2-mile swim to Plum Island and back. He had not attempted the swim before, but his family said he was a lifeguard and on the swim team in high school.
"I'm not sure in these conditions whether that matters," Nikas said.
Based on the location of Pecina's car, police said they believe he arrived at Crane Beach prior to its opening at 8 a.m.
The Coast Guard said it has a helicopter, two planes and two life boats searching the area. Ipswich police and fire and a Quincy police marine unit are also assisting in the search.
The windy conditions are making the search especially tough.
"There's sand blowing everywhere," Nikas said. "There's a lot of chop out on the water, so it's making difficult search grid patterns for our boats."
The search is active and ongoing, officials said.
Others at Crane Beach on Friday were shocked to hear the news.
"I have a wetsuit that I wouldn't use before May," said Nikki Angelova of Boston. "Whether I was surfing or swimming, I wouldn't do it. Not here and not with this wind."
Nikas said the search will continue until dusk and resume in the morning.