NORTH WILDWOOD — A mother drowned Tuesday afternoon trying to rescue her children from the rough surf, according to fire Chief Dominick J. McClain.

Fire and police were called just before 3 p.m. to the beach at 18th Avenue to help four swimmers. McClain said two of the swimmers made it out of the water on their own and a third was rescued 50 yards from shore.

A police along with off-duty North Wildwood lifeguards and firefighters from North Wildwood and Wildwood entered the water, Mayor Patrick Rosenello said.

The last of the swimmers, a 49-year-old woman from Wernersville, Pennsylvania, was found face down in the water 150 yards away. She was pronounced dead at Cape Regional Medical Center.

The rescued swimmers had been the woman's 8 and 10-year-old sons and 19-year-old daughter.

Lifeguards were not on duty because patrols end on Labor Day.

The surf off the entire Jersey Shore has been rough for most of the month as a result of  tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean. There was a moderate risk of rip currents on Tuesday.

"My deepest condolences go out to the family and I cannot stress enough that no one should enter the ocean when lifeguards are not present," Rosenello said.

McClain said that the only other person on the beach was a man reading a book.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ