Freshwater Lifesaver Wins NSW Rescue of the Month

Freshwater SLSC lifesaver, Tod Rowbotham has been awarded the National Surf Life Saving Rescue of the Month for a dramatic rescue in dangerous three metre surf in April.

On Saturday 12 April 2014 a group of surf club members arrived at Freshwater beach for their weekly paddle but chose to not go out as the surf was too dangerous.

While watching the big surf conditions, a member of the public ran up to the group stressing that there was a board rider in trouble and needing assistance.

Tod Rowbotham, a member of Freshwater SLSC, instinctively grabbed a rescue board from the surf club and raced into the rip at the south end of the beach to rescue the board rider who was being washed onto the rocks.

As Rowbotham made his way out he located the surfer in serious distress, completely exhausted and struggling to stay afloat. He quickly paddled over to the patient, navigating the big surf, picked up the board rider as well as his board and continued to paddle out the back of the break and to the north end of the beach where it would be safer to paddle back in.

As Rowbotham was paddling north, parallel to the beach, he noticed a ferocious set of waves coming towards them. Unfortunately the wave broke so far out that they were not able to paddle over it, so Rowbotham instructed the patient to get off the rescue board, hold his breath and dive to the bottom of the ocean floor. The pair resurfaced to be hit by another large wave.

Luckily the large surf conditions had pulled the pair towards the shore, so both managed to swim in to the beach themselves. Rowbotham had put his own life at risk in order to save the board rider. If it was not for his 36 years of surfing experience and his ability to remain calm under pressure, the situation could have ended very differently.

The National and SLSNSW Rescue of the Month aims to recognise excellence in lifesaving. Each month a ‘Rescue of the Month’ is awarded at State level for the most outstanding rescue performance for that period. Monthly winners have the chance to win the Australian Rescue of the Month and become finalists for the SLSNSW Rescue of the Year which is presented at the annual Awards of Excellence.

For official citations and past recipients please visit the Rescue of the Month Recognition Page.

Thu 5 Jun 2014