In a rescue illustrating that surf sports stars are lifesavers first and foremost, members of the South Curl Curl SLSC boat crew have been recognised at state level for their efforts in assisting struggling swimmers back to shore in early October, 2023.
The incident, which unfolded late on Tuesday 3 October 2023 and saw three young swimmers sucked out to sea from a sandbank at the southern end of the beach, has been awarded the Surf Life Saving NSW Rescue of the Month.
Members on hand to assist on the evening included Toby Skelton, Jack Rivett, Zara Howes, Archie Warneford, Braede Cox, Brad Hinds, Alan Perry, and Harry Andrew, with the latter three grabbing rescue boards and paddling out to assist the two remaining swimmers.
Toby and Alan are both members of South Curl Curl’s U23 Men’s surf boat crew, which placed second at the Australian Selection Trials at Swansea Belmont late last year.
They train frequently at the club and fortunately, on the afternoon the rescue occurred, they were on site. Alan reacted first from the gym, noticing Brad pulling a rescue board from the wall of the club house and running out into the water before joining him to assist.
“We thought Al was just going out for a paddle, randomly,” Jack said with a smile.
“But that’s when we realised there was a whole heap of people sort of crowding around on the rocks by the pool and we figured out what was happening and jumped into action.”
One swimmer was assisted from the water by a member of the public, while the other two were rescued by the off-duty lifesavers. In all, the rescue took more than half an hour to safely paddle out the distance the swimmers had floated and navigate the conditions to take advantage of the calmer surf to the north.
Both remaining swimmers were brought back to shore successfully, with one requiring first aid on the beach.
“One kid was unconscious. We held his head and managed his airway, then the water started coming up over the rocks, so we had to move him with the spinal board,” Zara said.
For the crew, it was a tricky situation ultimately managed thanks to years of training and knowledge imparted through the Surf Life Saving movement.
“It was just routine, you didn’t need to think about it,” Zara said.
“Everything has been drilled into you in Nippers through to SRC (Surf Rescue Certificate) to Bronze (Medallion) and into patrols doing proficiencies, it’s all second nature.
“I’m grateful for all the practice because without it the result might have been different.”
The Surf Life Saving NSW Rescue of the Month aims to recognise excellence in lifesaving and service delivery, measured against industry best practice and operating procedures.
To view a Youtube video recapping the rescue, click here.
South Curl Curl Surf Life Saving Club: https://southcurlcurlslsc.com.au/