Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Rescued boys become lifesavers to help others

Two Swansea cousins who were rescued from sea after being caught in a rip tide are training to be lifeguards themselves in the hope of saving others.

Twelve-year-olds Max Harris and Jac Hopkins are enrolled in the Wales National Pool's RLSS Rookie Lifeguards programme after a seaside drama made them want to learn more about protecting their lives and the lives of others.

Their inspiration to train follows in the wake of an ordinary family outing to Three Cliffs Bay just over three years ago that came very close to tragedy.

The family had been regulars at the beach for years.

Max and cousin Jac had bodyboards with them and ran off down to the water but to their horror within seconds the boys had been caught in a sudden rip current and had been dragged out 50 metres to sea.

Mum Sarah Harris said it was a day she will never forget. She said: "They were suddenly so far out. I could not swim out to them and there was no way they could swim back against such a current to safety.

"Before I knew it I had ran in and was chest deep in water screaming for help, screaming for them to be safe and screaming for them to come back. Every time a wave crashed over my head I lost track of them. I saw nothing but waves.

"There were people trying to reach the boys to save them and trying to shout instructions to get them to safety but the current was so strong that I thought they were going to be lost.

"I will never forget that feeling. It probably lasted no longer than 15 minutes but it felt like a lifetime.

"I was terrified that I had lost my son.

"The current dragged them way up the shoreline from where I last saw them but, to my enormous relief, Max's Uncle Jonathan remembered his lifeguard training and managed to drag them in."

Jac's mum Emma Hopkins said "We were unbelievably lucky. The boys were fine but the incident still affects me today.

"I am delighted the boys now have the opportunity to have lifesaving lessons at the Wales National Pool.

"If Max's Uncle Jonathan did not have his training they would have been lost. I also think the training will make the boys think more of safety when they are in the water. I would hope the training will help them to better respond to anything that may happen in future."

The Wales National Pool adopts the Royal Lifesaving Association Rookie Lifeguards courses that are designed to ensure that a child has essential water skills to keep themselves safe and the knowledge to know what to do in an emergency.

The programme features swimming and lifesaving skills that are supported by water safety education.

And the courses have proved so popular that the Wales National Pool Swansea has added to its Tuesday sessions with extra courses on a Thursday too.

Jane Draper, General Manager at the Wales National Pool, said: "We are delighted at the participation levels and progress on the courses. The boys have experienced first hand just how vital the skills we teach are.

"We take seriously our role in helping ensure that children in the local community in our city by the sea are learning skills to keep them safe in the water."

Details of Rookie Lifeguards and other swimming programmes for children and adults at the Wales National Pool Swansea are available at www.walesnationapoolswansea.co.uk or by calling 01792 513513.


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