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Float To Live: Tina’s Story

When Tina was swept out to sea further than she could swim back, she was in real danger. But then she remembered to Float to Live.

A woman in a striped top stands next to the lifeboat dock at the RNLI College

Photo: RNLI/Jimmy Young

The Float to Live technique saved Tina’s life

In September 2022, Tina was at Godrevy Beach in Cornwall with her husband when she decided to go for a paddle. ‘I was enjoying the sunshine,’ she remembers. ‘Then I went to put my feet down and there was nothing there.’ 

Tina had been dragged out to sea by a rip current. ‘I did try and swim in a few times, but I was just getting pushed further and further out,’ she says.

Tina started waving her arms and calling for help, but her cries went unanswered. It was then that she remembered seeing the RNLI’s Float to Live campaign. ‘It had been playing on a big screen near where I work in Portsmouth,’ she says. 

The advert explained that, if you find yourself in difficulty in the water, you should Float to Live. ‘Thank goodness I had seen it,’ says Tina. ‘It allowed me to relax a little bit, shout for help, float a little bit, shout for more help. Eventually my husband spotted me from the beach and raised the alarm.’

Watch: Tina reunites with the lifeguard, Tarryn, who saved her life

Tarryn Brown was on duty as an RNLI lifeguard that day. She grabbed onto a rescue board attached to the back of the lifeguard team's rescue watercraft and they powered towards Tina. Floating made a big difference to saving her life. 

‘Because you’re focusing on keeping yourself afloat, it calms you down completely,’ explains Tarryn. ‘It allows you to open up your airway and breathe calmly. Then, when help does arrive, you can listen to instructions on how best to get you to safety.’

Guided by people on the shore, the lifeguards soon found Tina floating on her back. ‘When Tarryn jumped in the water, she asked if I was able to climb onboard,’ says Tina. ‘And I said: “Yes, try and stop me!”’

Tina was quickly returned to the shore on the back of the rescue watercraft and checked over by the lifeguards. ‘I stood up and my knees went a bit,’ says Tina. ‘I was thinking: “Ooh, that was close.”’

Looking back, Tina realises how important the Float to Live campaign was to her that day. ‘I’m so grateful that the video was there,’ says Tina. ‘And that the lifeguards were on the beach that day to rescue me.’ 

 Float to Live

By floating, Tina was able to keep herself calm until help arrived. If you get in difficulty in the water, here’s how you can Float to Live:

  • Tilt your head back with your ears submerged.
  • Relax and try to breathe normally.
  • Move your hands to help you stay afloat.
  • It’s OK if your legs sink, everyone floats differently.
  • Spread your arms and legs to improve stability. 

If you can, practice floating in a pool or at a lifeguarded beach with your friends. Learning this technique will make a real difference to your survival chances if you do get in trouble in the water. 

Learn more about how to float, how to deal with cold water shock, and what to do if you're ever caught in a rip current.

How to Float