Local diver James is giving credit to the Mount Maunganui lifeguards for saving his life on Sunday.
James was snorkelling near the end of Moturiki Island when a strong current pushed him into the blowhole area by the rocks, says the Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service Facebook page.
The backwashing current, fuelled by a rising one-metre swell, quickly dragged him under.
“I cramped up and just couldn’t get out of it,” says James to the Mount Maunganui lifeguards.
“I had my hand up and I was calling out help and just as I went under, I looked up and saw a pink board coming towards me. I was pretty glad to see it!”
MMLS Lifeguards Doug Miller and Paul Barron were part of a masters group going for a cruisy Sunday paddle when they heard James yelling.
“I could see he was taking on water and he was starting to climb the ladder – both arms were up and he was yelling,” says Doug.
“We were a little distance away and once we realised he was yelling out ‘help’, we got over there pretty smartly. We used the board and ski and got him up and out of the water. There was a bit of swell in there and it was tricky turning around but we managed to get him to safety and called for the IRB.”
Patrol captain Fergus Rieger quickly launched an IRB and headed out to pick James up, then lifeguards assessed and checked Hames in the new club to make sure he was ok to go home.
A vastly grateful James was impressed with the response.
“They came over to me pretty fast. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have got out of it – I felt my legs go and they just stopped kicking.”
It was part of a busy day, amid hot sunshine at the Main Beach, which included a first aid call-out near the top of Mauao, which Paul and Doug were also involved in, as part of a larger team coordinating the response, says the Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service Facebook page.
“As well as plenty of beach-goers, there was also a beach volleyball tournament, junior surf, IRB training with Omanu and Papamoa, and the start of the Mount’s rookie programme.”