Two fathers have drowned trying to rescue their sons, while a third man has also died while snorkelling with friends at separate unpatrolled beaches across Victoria.
Paramedics were first called to a beach at Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road, about 12.30pm (AEDT) on Saturday, where a man used a surfboard to help a boy, aged 12, safely to shore.
Surf life savers then arrived and used an inflatable rescue boat to haul the boy's father, aged his sixties, unconscious from the water.
The boy - whose father had tried to rescue him from the rip - was taken to hospital in a stable condition, having swallowed water and suffered shock, Mr Mullen said.
The beach at St George River, southwest of Lorne's main beach, is not patrolled and features a permanent rip flowing out its narrow entrance, according to Life Saving Victoria (LSV).
At 2.30pm, paramedics also attended a beach in Rye, on the Mornington Peninsula, where a man in his 30s, who had been snorkelling with friends, was found unconscious in the water.
A third man, aged in his forties, died after being reported missing in waters at Golden Beach near Sale, in Victoria's Gippsland region.
He had reportedly swum out to try to save his 10-year-old son after he became caught in a rip.
Paramedics were called around 3.20pm, but at 6pm police confirmed his had been found at the beach.
LSV spokeswoman Jennifer Roberts said 57 beaches had been patrolled across the state on Saturday.
She urged people check signs and survey the risks at any beach before getting in the water, and never to swim alone.
"Every drowning death is a tragic occurrence," Ms Roberts said.
"Every beach is inherently dangerous."
Lorne Police Sergeant David Cooper had risked his life to save the 12-year-old boy, Victoria Police said.
Upon learning of the boy caught in a rip, Sgt Cooper rushed to the scene, commandeered a surfboard from a beach-goer, stripped to his boxer shorts and paddled out through heavy surf more than 100 metres from shore to reach the boy.
He and another swimmer secured the semi-conscious boy to the board and brought him safely ashore, only to then learn the 62-year-old Noble Park man had also been swept away in the rip, police said.
Paddling out again, Sgt Cooper reached the unconscious man floating face down in the water, as two other men on surfboards came to his assistance, followed by surf life savers in a rubber dingy.
The officer commenced CPR on the man in the dingy, and continued once ashore with the help of a paramedic.
Despite the pair performing CPR on the man for almost an hour, he could not be revived.
"I will sleep tonight knowing that I did all I could possibly do to save both of the swimmers," Sgt Cooper said in a statement.
"It is sad that a family has lost a loved one but it could very easily been two deaths here today."