Personal items belonging to Hugo Palmer and Erwan Ferrieux were found by walkers on Shelley Beach, near Port Macquarie, 390km north of Sydney, at sunrise on Monday.
A water and ground search began involving police from Mid North Coast Police District, Marine Rescue, SES, NSW Police Force Marine Area Command, but there has been no sign of the men.
A further search by police revealed their rental auto, a silver Commodore Station wagon, had been left abandoned in a vehicle park at the beach, which is near Port Macquarie in New South Wales.
A police command post has been set up in the auto park as the State Emergency Service searches nearby bush, and jet skis and police boats scour the water.
"This whole operation is about locating and rescuing these young men".
Earlier on Wednesday, Insp Peter Neville said he still had hope of finding the two men alive.
Two women, who are friends of the pair, have come forward and are co-operating with police.
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Emergency services conduct a search for two missing swimmers at Shelly Beach in Port Macquarie.
The women "were due to meet [the men] in Port Macquarie - they have travelled here today to support not only operations but their friends", Inspector Neville said.
"There was no sight of them anywhere then", the man wrote on Facebook on Tuesday as authorities scoured the coast.
They both appear to have attended Sackville School, south of London.
Mr Ferrieux has dark hair, brown eyes, a tanned complexion and is between 175-180cm tall.
The police said that they were appealing to anyone who might have seen the men of their Commodore vehicle near the beach auto park or the surrounding streets to contact them.
Laura is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.