Eight saved in mass rescue at Pippi Beach
EIGHT swimmers were rescued from Yamba's Pippi Beach on Tuesday morning in what Clarence Valley Lifeguard supervisor Greg Wyllie described as one of the most "professional, methodical, impressive" mass rescue he has seen.
Lifeguards Mikey Gilliman and Harry Fahey were on duty when at 10.35am, two bodyboarders and six teenage swimmers found themselves in trouble, being sucked 80m out to sea after a freak set of waves.
"It was one of the bigger sets of the day where six large waves came in at the north end of Pippi," Mr Wyllie said.
"All the swimmers were doing the right thing and swimming between the flags but with an incoming tide and six large waves, there was megalitres of water surging in towards the beach, and when all that water goes to push back into the ocean it created a little channel on the northern end of the beach."
After two days of poor weather, Tuesday's sunny weather meant more than 400 people were at the beach that day, with Mr Wyllie estimating at least 100 swimmers in the ocean at the time of the rescue.
Mr Wyllie said it took an extreme amount of fitness and skill from the two lifeguards on duty to perform the rescue.
"To get out the back of the surf, put a person on the and get them back to shore, and do that eight times, is a huge effort," he said.
"There was a surfer out the back at the time, to the lifeguards told him and the two with the bodyboards to form a floating platform for people to hold on to while the lifeguards methodically brought them back to shore."
After 20 minutes the rescue was over, with all swimmers safely returned to the shore.
Mr Wyllie said the most remarkable part happened after the rescue was over.
"When the two lifeguards walked back up the beach there were at least 50 people applauding the effort they put in," he said.
"I've been involved as a lifeguard for 18 years and I've never seen people applaud the lifeguards after a rescue, because that was something else.
"It was executed perfectly, and it was a very high standard of lifeguarding exhibited."