The Swimming Lessons that Saved Lives

Published on 16 June 2022

It’s easy to underestimate the force of nature and the power of waves while at the beach. Thankfully one child kept up with his swimming lessons at the Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre (RALC) throughout the years, and the lessons ingrained into his mind ultimately saved his life and his mother’s during their beach holiday last Christmas.

His mother shared their story with us. Read it below.

This will just take a minute of your time. Perhaps grab a cup of tea.

My son Peter, who is now eight, has been taking swimming lessons at the RALC for a number of years now.

Over the Xmas holidays, we stayed at a house on Sunshine Beach, Noosa, with another family who had similar aged children. We have been to this area many times over the years but had never swum there before – as it’s not child friendly – not until these holidays.

The day we arrived was stinking hot. We threw all our belongings in our rooms, got changed and headed to the beach for a paddle but my husband stayed back at the house. We headed to the flags, as we always do at the beach, and proceeded to jump around in the water.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Sunshine Beach but there's white wave after white wave. The kids loved it though. There is a small section of water that you can swim over to get to a sand bar where you can easily stand up. It’s adult knee deep. Peter and one of the other girls wanted to go out to the sandbar as their older siblings and one of the dads were there playing over/unders. Initially I said no, but then relented as I know Peter is confident without being cocky in the water.

My friend agreed and we would go together with our two children. Ready kids, ok, let’s swim NOW.

But we just couldn’t stand there. My toe touched the sand but I just kept getting smashed and pushed back by the waves. We were quickly running out of steam. Peter was exhausted and started to cry. By now, both of us were swallowing a bit of water and starting to panic. My girlfriend and her daughter, Willow , who was the same age as Peter were going under. They started to really panic and were screaming out for help.

Thank God, the lifeguards heard their screams but had more than likely already seen them. They got Willow in the life ring, her mum onto their paddle board and headed back to the beach. 

During that time, I could see the rescue happening out the corner of my eye but was too tired to do anything. My life with my son was flashing before my eyes. Our first day of holidays and we were going to drown. My husband was back at the holiday house. This would NEVER have happened if he came with us. I was thinking how stupid I was, I should've insisted saying no to going to the sandbar.

Then Peter yelled at me, "Get on your back mum". We both rolled over with whatever energy we had left, which honestly, was just about my last breath. The ocean was so noisy. I screamed out to Peter as loud as I possibly could to kick as hard as he was able. We reached the shore in absolutely no time at all and the both of us collapsed in shock at what had just unfolded so quickly. 

After catching our breath, the four of us walked back to the accommodation, not saying a word. We were too stunned. Later that night, I talked to Peter about the events of that afternoon and told him, "You do know that you saved our lives. Why did you tell mum to roll on to her back?"

He said, "Because that what I learnt at swimming lessons". I wanted to cry but held it together. He really did save our lives. If Peter had not have told us to roll on our back, I’d definitely have drowned.

Our swimming lessons will be continuing for some time yet.

Note: Names have been changed to preserve the privacy of those mentioned in the article.

Tagged as: