Holiday makers’ thank you to mystery surfers who saved their children

08:30 07 August 2013

Tim, 16 (left), and Michael, 13, were playing in the sea when they realised they couldn

Tim, 16 (left), and Michael, 13, were playing in the sea when they realised they couldn't get back to the beach

Archant

A HOLIDAYMAKER has praised the efforts of three quick-thinking surfers who saved her children from being washed out to sea.

Mum Yuliya Johnson and her husband Ian, on a family holiday from Derby, watched on helplessly as their two sons, Tim, 16, and Michael, 13, fought strong waves and a powerful rip current at Woolacombe.

The children – both competent pool swimmers – had been happily jumping around in the waves on a quieter part of the beach – outside the zone patrolled by RNLI lifeguards.

To the horror of their panicked parents, the brothers were swept out to sea in a matter of minutes.

“It all happened so quickly,” said Yuliya.

“The current was so strong and pulled them away so quickly.

“I went into the water fully dressed, screaming ‘please come back!’ I was hysterical but useless.

“My husband stood on the sand frozen. We were very close to losing both children to the sea.”

To their relief, a young girl surfing nearby spotted the boys and raised the alarm to two adult surfers, who brought them back to shore.

“I want to say a massive thank you again to those people for saving my kids. God Bless them,” said Yuliya.

“That little girl was reassuring them all along. Those people are my heroes now. I did not even ask their names, I was so shocked and distressed.

“I also want to say to other parents that children are proud of their swimming achievements in school but you need to be aware of the dangers of swimming in the sea. It’s not the same thing.”

The RNLI and Amateur Swimming Association recently joined forces to pilot a scheme to teach children how to cope in such situations.

The ‘Swim Safe’ initiative is offering 3,000 seven to 14-year olds advice on how to stay safe in the sea, running throughout August in Bude.

Will Stephens, RNLI Coastal Safety Manager, said: “Children account for around two-thirds of incidents the charity’s lifeguards respond to.

“We’re hoping this programme will equip children with valuable knowledge and skills so they can have fun but stay safe in and around the sea.”

Last year nearly half of the environmental incidents dealt with by RNLI lifeguards involved rip currents.

Lifeguards advise beach-goers to always swim between the red and yellow flags, patrolled areas identified as the safest on the beach.

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