The man was swimming with a teenage boy and a girl off Reighton Gap, four miles south of Filey at around 2pm on Thursday when they were swept out to sea after getting caught in a rip tide.
The children were pulled from the water by members of the public and the man, aged 55, was rescued by an RNLI lifeboat from the Filey station but later pronounced dead.
The Yorkshire Air Ambulance and a Coastguard helicopter also landed.
North Yorkshire Police said: "Police were called by the coastguard at about 2.45pm yesterday to a report of people in difficulty in the sea at Reighton. A 55-year-old man was rescued by the RNLI, but sadly later pronounced dead. Two teenagers were taken to hospital for treatment. Enquiries are ongoing.”
John Ward from Filey RNLI said: "Just before 2pm, Humber Coastguard requested the immediate launch of Filey lifeboat following multiple 999 calls that three persons were in great difficulties in the sea off Reighton Gap, some four miles south of Filey.
"As there was already an Atlantic 85 crew at the boathouse preparing to launch on exercise, it was decided to send that boat (relief Atlantic 85 'Pride of Fred Olsen') with Neil Cammish, Fraser Haddington, Sarah Scrivener and Rhys Colling as crew.
"In view of the nature of the call, the A85 was rapidly launched and with its top speed of over 35 knots, the crew were on scene very quickly.
"A crew member entered the water to assist a man in difficulties whilst the other two persons appeared to have made it safely to shore. As the man’s condition was so serious, it was decided to transfer the casualty to Coble Landing in Filey at top speed by boat to the waiting paramedics who were attending along with both a Coastguard helicopter and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
"In the meantime, Filey’s D Class lifeboat, Braund, with Alex Harrison, Liam Frampton and Katie Pooley as crew, was launched to assist Coastguard teams and paramedics at Reighton with the other two casualties, both of whom were taken to hospital.
“The lifeboat crews quickly launched the Atlantic 85 lifeboat and were able to take advantage of its top speed to reach the casualties so quickly. It has been a harrowing experience for everyone and we thank all our volunteers who attended as well as the Coastguard teams, police, paramedics and air crews.”
Micky Free, who was flying a drone on the beach and used it to help locate the casualties in the water, paid tribute to those who went to the children's aid.
"I was the drone operator on the beach and I led the public to the three in trouble in the sea. The girl was rescued by a brave man and a couple of others from the beach and I led my drone to the boy that needed help. If not for my brave wife Gemma and another woman the boy would not have made it back to land.
"I am so proud that members of the public risked their lives in the rescue of others that they did not even know."
Reighton Gap, which is close to the Reighton Sands holiday park, is notorious for rip tides - in the summer of 2019, there were seven call-outs to swimmers who had been swept out in just one week.
Last week, six teenagers were injured after being caught in a rip at Hornsea South Beach and thrown against the groynes, leaving them with cuts, bruising and shock.
Coastguard advice on rip tides
- If swimming in the sea, stay within your depth, at a lifeguarded beach if possible
- If you are caught in a rip current, don’t try and swim against it; swim across it, parallel to shore or float on your back
- If you see anyone if difficulty in the sea dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard, who will co-ordinate a rescue