FRIENDS of an 18-year-old man who drowned while trying to swim across the River Thames told an inquest today how they desperately tried to save his life.

Anwaar Ali Ahmed of Roxteth Green Avenue, Harrow was recovered by police divers near Ferry Lane, Medmenham, at about midnight on Friday, July 3 – just a day after his birthday.

The teenager and a group of friends met at Brent Cross to celebrate completing their A-Level exams before Anwaar suggested the group take a “trip into to the countryside”.

Friend Mohamed Jawad Nadaf told the inquest, held at Amersham Courthouse, how the group were chatting on the riverbank when Anwaar spontaneously decided to swim cross the river because he was “so happy and high on life”.

He then begged friend Billal Khan to swim alongside him because he “didn't want to go by himself”, before he got into trouble halfway across the river and “went under the water”.

Mr Khan then jumped back into the water in a desperate attempt to save his friend's life.

Mr Khan said: “Anwaar told me to go first, so I jumped in and set off. While I was swimming I looked behind me a couple of times but couldn't really see anything.

“I reached the other side and used a rope to pull me up. I was very tired and started drying myself off when I heard people shouting 'he's drowning' and Anwaar was calling my name.

“I then jumped back in and when I reached him, he jumped on my shoulders and pushed me under the water as he gasped for air.

“I told him to hold on to me but he was panicking and very nervous, so I kept trying to tell him to swing his arms and kick his legs as I couldn't drag him by myself.

“I had hold of his hand as I swam back across but he his grip slipped and he let go and then he just went under the water.”

In statement read out to the court, PC Peter Darling said he found an Asian male wearing just black boxer shorts facing down in 2.4m deep water.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Richard Hulett said: “When there is nice and sunny weather and people feel in good spirits they are often tempted to jump into a river.

“But swimming across the River Thames is very difficult – it may not look very far across from the river bank, but when people try to swim across a river, they often pay the price.”