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Years of training and a local knowledge of the conditions paved the way for an off-duty Cronulla lifesaver to rescue a swimmer caught in a powerful rip last week.

At around 7:30pm on Wednesday 6 December, 17-year-old Darcy Macpherson was about to have a shower after having an afternoon surf at Cronulla Beach.

Conditions weren’t the best with inconsistent waves and fading light prompting the decision to head to shore

“I was just about to jump in the shower and I was outside the clubhouse chatting to another member when out of the corner of my I noticed a lone swimmer who appeared to be caught in a rip.

“After watching him for a few seconds it was obvious he wasn’t making any headway so we came to the conclusion that he might need to be rescued as he didn’t look in the best shape,” said Macpherson.

The teenager dropped his surf gear and rushed to the shed to grab a rescue board. It wasn’t a difficult search as the club stores them for easy access to aid in situations just like this.

He raced into the surf and was at the middle-aged swimmer’s side within three minutes.

“When I got there I told him I was an off duty lifesaver he was so exhausted that he couldn’t really talk. So I got him to hold on and waited for my chance to get back to shore.”

All of the skills and training Darcy Macpherson had done since becoming a Nipper seven years ago kicked in to help him negotiate the tricky conditions.

“It’s an easy spot to get into difficulty as you need to know that the conditions can change rapidly. I was really glad of all my training but it was just instinct that helped me do the rescue,” said Macpherson.

The incident is a timely reminder of how lifesavers can be called upon any time even when they are off-duty, and how well maintained and easily accessible gear can be crucial in times of need.   

Tips On How To Spot A Rip Current

Some signs include;

  • Deeper, dark-coloured water.

  • Fewer breaking waves.

  • A rippled surface surrounded by smooth waters.

  • Anything floating out to sea or foamy, discoloured, sandy, water flowing out beyond the waves.

Rips don’t always show all of these signs at once.

Rip Current Survival Tips

  • Relax – stay calm and float to conserve your energy.

  • Raise – raise your arm and attract attention from lifeguards or lifesavers.

  • Rescue – the lifeguards or lifesavers will be on their way to help you.

  • While floating, rip currents may flow in a circular pattern and return you to an adjacent sandbar

  • You may escape the rip current by swimming parallel to the beach, towards the breaking waves.

  • Reassess your situation. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try one of the other options until you’re rescued or return to shore.


Monday 11 December 2017