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Mother credits beach education for preventing tragedy
















New Zealand's water safety record is taking a hammering this season with numerous drownings in our still water, rivers, pools and beaches.

This is in spite of the positive contribution to Beach Education from courses run by Surf Life Saving Northern Region for thousands of Auckland school children.

Beachlands mother Rachel (surname withheld for privacy) was recently given the shock of her life when her two boys' water skills were put to the test. 

A mum of two boys, Sebastian age 6 and Lachlan age 10, says the family spends quite a bit of time in the water waterskiing, kneeboarding and swimming. However, they are very strict about one rule on the boat: without a wetsuit and lifejacket there are no water activities.

"It made sense to enrol the boys in the Surf Life Saving Northern Region, City Nippers programme at Maraetai in term 4 2015.

"We thought the City Nippers programme to be a natural extension to the regular swimming lessons they have both had.

"The boys loved the course and came home each Sunday buzzing about what they had learnt and how they could apply their new skills to our situation both on the boat and at the beach." 

Those skills would be put to the test during a weekend outing on Lake Tarawera when young Sebastian was knee-boarding. When he let go of the rope he rolled upside down and as his knee strap had been tightened too tight, he could not release from the board nor right himself upright. 

"Essentially, he was being held underwater," says Rachel. "Initially, we all thought Seb was managing, but it soon became apparent that he was not. He was struggling to keep his head up as the board was pushing him down into the water.

"Luckily, Lachlan leapt to action first. He swam to Seb and stabilised him as much as he could while treading water. When we got to Seb we were able to release him and get him back to shore which was about 15m away."

Rachel says Seb had taken in water. "I was terrified! But what was apparent was how well the boys handled the situation. Seb kept relatively calm, put his hand in the air when he could, and kept trying to free himself. Lachlan's reaction was swift and confident. He knew how to hold Seb up in the water." 

Rachel says the boys were confident in the water, but their confidence had never been tested until that weekend.

"I am sure they reacted the way they did because of the skills and knowledge they gained from the City Nippers course," says Rachel. 

"I cannot thank the young leaders enough.  They engaged our boys so well, and passed on the right amount of information. Thank You for running the City Nippers programme. We thought we were giving our boys an opportunity; turns out, they gained skills that helped keep our family safe."



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