By Molly Daly

WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — Four people had to rescued from the ocean in Wildwood, New Jersey Saturday morning after they went swimming before lifeguards went on duty.

Authorities say they were part of a family group who came to the beach near Spicer Avenue, set up their blankets, and, even though signs warned them not to, hit the water sometime before lifeguard shifts began at 10 a.m. Wildwood Beach Patrol Captain Ed Schneider says beachgoers flagged down the lifeguards as they arrived.

“Guards immediately responded and rescued four victims,” he says “and brought them immediately to the beach.”

Two of the swimmers, a male and female, were conscious when they were rescued. A second male was semi-conscious, and a third male was unconscious and needed CPR. All four were conscious by the time fire rescue arrived and took them to Cape Regional Medical Center. But Schneider said everyone’s day could’ve gone differently — and more easily — if the visitors had just followed one simple rule.

“The bottom line is,” he says, “when life guards are not on duty, people should not enter the water.”

The victims ranged from ages 15 to 30. There was no immediate word on their conditions.