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Three young Avoca Beach Nippers “still can’t believe” they “basically saved a man’s life” after their quick thinking and bravery was behind a rescue effort on the Central Coast last week – a rescue which has since been recognised by Surf Life Saving NSW as the Rescue of the Month.

Matilda Coleman, Violet Wolters and Matilda Harvey, all nine years old, were out getting exercise on the Nipper boards on the morning of Wednesday, 22 September when they heard a man calling out to them from deeper water.

“We went to see if he was okay and he asked if we would stay with him,” Matilda Coleman said.

“We let him hold onto our boards, but we were getting swept out to sea in a rip,” Matilda Harvey added.

“The man was calm, though, so we weren’t panicking.”

Utilising a knowledge base built over years as Nippers, the girls read the direction of the rip, watched for waves that could take them back in, and the two Matilda’s caught one in to get more help while Violet stayed out the back to assist the man in trouble.


Handwritten and typed accounts of how the rescue happened by the three girls.


“Dad (Stuart) was swimming out to us at this stage, so we met with him, I gave him my board and I doubled in on Matilda’s board,” Matilda Harvey said.

“When Stuart got to me, he told me to paddle back in,” Violette said.

With Stuart’s help, the man escaped the incident without any issues.

In fact, the speed with which the rescue was made allowed for a second man, also struggling in the rip, to be assisted back into shore.

Without the courage and excellent decision-making under pressure shown by the three girls, this may not have been the case.

“Afterwards me and the girls were riding our skateboards still not believing that we basically saved someone’s life,” Violette said.

Thursday 30 September 2021