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It may have happened just over two months ago, but 13-year-old Katja Moritz remembers her first rescue very clearly.

It was just after Christmas, on a family holiday to the Central Coast, that the North Bondi SLSC Nipper was called into action while she caught waves on one of Santa’s special deliveries.

“I was on the Nipper board my brother got for Christmas when I heard someone yelling “help”,” she recalled.

It was 3 January at Umina Beach – a stinking hot summer’s day just the other side of the New Year public holiday and a day that many would have still had off.

“I didn’t quite understand at first, but then I looked over to where the sound was coming from and I saw a man struggling,” she continued.

“I paddled over on my board and told him to hold onto the back straps.”

That wasn’t to be the end of it, though, as the man – in a state of panic – then indicated over Katja’s shoulder to another girl struggling in the water.

“She was on her boogie board, and I swam over to her and held her tightly to her board,” Katja said.

“I signalled for assistance and a lifeguard paddled over and collected the girl. My mum came to help the dad and brought him in.”

It was the manifestation of years of Nipper training and practice coming good. Katja “didn’t have time” to think about nerves, she simply acted with confidence in the way she has always been shown.

That confidence will only grow as a result of the rescue to begin the year, and goes to show the value of the movement for young people in developing water safety skills.

“Before I was kind of scared that rescuing would be really hard,” Katja said.

“This rescue gave me a chance to see that all I need to do is really think through the steps.

“Now I am excited to get my Surf Rescue Certificate (SRC) and help other people in the surf.”

Tuesday 14 March 2023