“The dangers didn’t scare me, I was just hoping the child and father would be okay.”
These are the words of Liam Doughty – the soon to be 17-year-old who paid homage to his nipper training in the aftermath of a fearless double rescue at Narrabeen Beach last month.
He’s no stranger to the ocean; as a talented surfer, Liam almost has saltwater running through his veins. His father confesses he practically grew up on the picturesque Narrabeen Beach, and was a North Steyne SLSC nipper for many years.
However, with that confidence and familiarity comes the understanding that, at times, the ocean is a treacherous place.
And just after 4.30pm on Wednesday August 11, those dangers reared their head in the worst possible way.
“My friend and I were swimming and it was my friend who first heard the commotion coming from the beach,” Liam recalled.
“At first, I didn’t know what was happening, but our first instinct was that there was a shark in the water from all the screaming so we both swam halfway to shore.
“When the screaming didn’t stop, we looked up and finally saw what they were pointing at.”
Caught in a strong rip, a father and son were fighting desperately against the current. Instincts kicked in, and Liam and his friend, Oscar acted as they believe anyone in their position would have.
“I knew that they were in trouble and obviously don’t have experience and knowledge about rips,” he said.
“We sprinted across the sandbank towards them and jumped in. Oscar got to the boy first as he wasn’t in a good state, and then I got to the father and asked if he was ok. He was panicked but said he could just manage to get in.
“I swam beside him to make sure he was ok, but once we got to the beach the immediate concern was the boy.
“Ambulances then arrived to help, and we spoke to the family and others on the beach.”
Reflecting on the incident a few days later, Liam was able to fully grasp the magnitude of what had unfolded that day and was grateful for his involvement with his local surf club as a junior which prepared him to be capable in situations just like this one.
“I called on two key skills that I learned through nippers,” he said.
“The first being how to effectively run across a sandbank – it is very important as you can be so much quicker than just normally running.
“The other was being able to identify a rip and understanding what they do.
“Once I got to there, I saw they were both trying to swim against the rip and into shore. Knowing that its nature is to go straight out to sea, I swam across the rip towards the sandbank.
“If the rip was any stronger than it was, I would’ve allowed it to take us out, then swam across back to the sand bank.”
While the young boy was transported at the time to Northern Beaches Hospital in a stable condition for observation, Liam and Oscar’s actions ensured that both the man and his son escaped the rip with little more than a bad memory.
“My previous training definitely helped,” Liam concluded.
Monday 30 August 2021