Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian surfer Leonardo Menyon abandoned his quarter-final heat of the Sao Paulo championship to rescue a drowning swimmer.

Menyon decided to forfeit his chance of a semi-final berth when he spotted danger in the choppy waters at Pitangueiras beach in Guaruja, reported Xinhua.

"I caught a wave early but then I saw a guy screaming for help and really struggling," the 17-year-old told the Globo news portal. "I gave him my board and told him to be calm, to breathe. We were hit by three big waves.

I thought he was going to die but I held him above water by his neck and pushed him to the shore." Menyon's heroic act left him just minutes to return for his event.

He was eliminated due to fewer points compared to rivals Samuel Pupo and Edgard Groggia. The teen was an instant hit on social media though.