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Respect the Water: Nathan’s story

This is Nathan. He got swept out to sea while swimming in Dorset. What saved his life? Some advice he’d heard on the radio. 


Nathan had travelled to Durdle Door, Dorset, for an August summer holiday. ‘I’d been a few years ago and vowed to come back on my birthday,’ remembers Nathan. ‘I came up from my hometown in Cambridgeshire with my best friend – conditions were perfect and you couldn’t get me out the water!’

He saw the stone arch that reaches into the sea from the shore and, after watching a few people swim through it, decided to try it himself. 

Nathan Slack, who got into trouble after being swept out to sea in Durdle Door

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

‘It looked easy, but the current had a bit of a suction through the arch and I was now out of my depth. I realised I couldn't get back. I was swimming, kicking and nothing was happening.’

Nathan started to panic but then he remembered the RNLI’s Float to Live message he’d heard on the radio. 

‘Instead of fighting the water, I just lay back and started floating and kicking my legs. Eventually, after about 20 minutes, I managed to get back to the safety of the beach. It saved my life.’ 

Float to live

If you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, float to increase your chances of survival.

Five steps to float:

  1. Fight your instinct to thrash around.
  2. Lean back, extend your arms and legs.
  3. If you need to, gently move your arms and legs to help you float.
  4. Float until you can control your breathing.
  5. Only then, call for help or swim to safety.

Learn more about floating and see more survivor stories at