A group of bronze medallion trainees witnessed the ultimate surf lifesaving demonstration when their trainers were called to a real-life rescue on Cronulla beach.
Elouera SLSC surf lifesavers and Bronze instructors Peter Meletopoulo and Glenn Cairncross were conducting a training session on 12 October 2019 when their lifesaving skills were called upon.
"We were identifying rip conditions for our students and we noticed that there were four guys struggling to get back to shore," Glenn said.
Peter quickly paddled out to the group and shadowed them to the sandbank.
"One fellow said he was fine, he was standing up and after a bit of negotiation we left it there," Peter said.
"He had a very nice easy walk-in on the sand, straight back to the beach and said he was fine.
"Unfortunately, it didn't stay that way," he said.
The swimmer got himself into trouble again.
At that point, Peter paddled back to the swimmer and attempted to secure him to the board.
Due to the swimmer's exhaustion and surf conditions, both Peter and the swimmer were washed towards the rock pool.
Meanwhile, Glenn was watching on as Peter and the swimmer clambered over the pool wall.
"I came around the pool expecting to see Pete dragging this poor old fella out, but it was the old bloke getting out saying 'I'm ok, but your mate's not much chop,'" Glenn said.
"I swam out to Pete, noticed him by the edge of the pool, he said 'I'm starting to see flashing lights and I think I've broken my ribs.'"
"I thought, we're in a bit of strife here," Glenn said.
A couple of the bronze students came to lend a hand and together with Glenn they assisted Peter out of the pool and administered first aid.
"Our bronze crew first thought it was a scenario, but they saw the urgency that Glenn responded with and they quickly figured out it wasn't a scenario, it was a real rescue," Peter said.
"I was very happy to see him (Glenn), and he couldn't have been in better hands to be honest," he said, concerned his mate would go into shock.
The pair were at Parliament House in Canberra this week where they were presented a National Rescue Medal for their bravery. Their rescue highlighted the skills and courage required under duress and the value of working as a team.
"Surf Life Saving is a team sport. Never do anything on your own, in a rescue you'll always have somebody by your side playing a vital role and that's what happened. It went to plan. We're trainers and we're happy to say although we needed to adapt, we adapted to our training, we followed it to a tee," Peter said.
"I've caught up with the fellow since and he's very appreciative of what was done for him.
"Everybody got to go home, that's a good outcome for surf lifesaving," he said.