Last week I was telling people in my work tea room about by impending
trip to Sydney and plans to go surfing at Bondi. A colleague joked
that she did not want to see me on Bondi Rescue. Well I was involved
in a rescue – but as the rescuer not the rescuee.
As a bit of background, while I am not a strong swimmer I spent four
years in the late 60s as a surf lifesaver on the Gold Coast and
understand surf well. Well there I was out at Bondi enjoying some
nice little waves and started chatting to a young visitor from London
(I have discovered you never meet anyone from Bondi at Bondi). He
asked if we were safe from sharks – I pointed to a person several
hundred metres out from where we were who was swimming across the
mouth of the bay. I said that that person was my insurance policy.
Surely any smart shark would sample him/her before us.
I then noticed that we were in a backwash. This is a phenomena where
after a set of large of waves, water returning out to sea can carry
unsuspecting swimmers 20 or 30 metres out before they realize what is
happening. This had happened to us.
From past experience I knew all we needed to do was swim slowly
towards the shore and incoming swells would assist us to get back into
shallower water. The danger in these situations is that people panic
as the progress can be slow, and start swimming wildly and often take
in sea water which makes the situation much worse.
This is precisely what my London friend did. I managed to calm him
down and told him just to keep swimming slowly and after five minutes
we were back to where we could stand up. I escorted him back to the
shore and cautioned him about going out too far when he was unsure of
the situation. He thanked me and said how terrifying it was when he
started swallowing salt water.
So there you are my own Bondi surf rescue! If you want to read more
exciting bodysurfing adventures please like my Bodysurfing on Magnetic
Facebook page www.facebook.com/bodysurfingmagnetic