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Southwold RNLI lifeguards rescue 11-year-old girl caught in lateral current

Lifeguards News Release

On Saturday 11 August, a young girl got caught in a lateral current and was being dragged towards Southwold Pier around 50m from Southwold Beach’s shoreline.

RNLI Lifeguard Harrison Blowers bringing 11-year-old girl back to shore on rescue board

RNLI/Megan McBride

RNLI Lifeguard Harrison Blowers bringing 11-year-old girl back to shore on rescue board

At around 1pm, the 11-year-old was swimming out between the red and yellow flags when the current suddenly became too strong for her to swim against and began pushing her toward Southwold Beach’s pier. Lifeguard Harrison Blowers of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) immediately swam out on a rescue board and brought her back to shore.

The child had got caught in a lateral current, a current which runs parallel to the shore, and was dragging her towards the Southwold Pier.

Liam Fayle-Parr, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor, said: ‘This was a fantastic outcome. We were so pleased the girl managed to stay calm and keep herself afloat until our lifeguard could reach her on a rescue board. Her reaction showed that our Respect the Water campaign message to stay calm and float does work! The sea is incredibly unpredictable and currents can quickly change direction - knowing how to behave if this happens to you in the water, can save your life.

‘The incident also highlights the importance of swimming between the red and yellow flags, which are there to let swimmers know where is safest to swim, and meant our lifeguards could get to her immediately.’

After the rescue, the young girl told the lifeguards: ‘The current suddenly became too strong for me to swim against, thank you for your help.’

The family also treated the lifeguards on shift to fish and chips afterwards.

The rescue happened shortly after RNLI Southwold Lifeboat Day demonstrations, in which the lifeguards also relayed important beach safety messages.

Float to Live:

  • If you're in trouble in cold water:
  • Fight your instinct to thrash around
  • Lean back, extend your arms and legs
  • If you need to, gently move your arms and legs to help you float
  • Float until you can control your breathing
  • Only then call for help or swim to safety

If you see somebody in danger of drowning at the coast:

Call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard straight away

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Megan McBride, RNLI Media Engagement Placement North East and East, on 07391544363 or at: [email protected]

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.