When a scared child sought help for a man drowning at Omanu Beach, teenagers Josh Jarvis and Fletcher Swan called on all their lifesaving skills to haul the man to safety.
As Omanu Beach Surf Life Saving Club members, Josh and Fletcher were at the beach about 4.45pm yesterday waiting for training when a young boy ran up and asked for help for a man in trouble.
Despite not being able to see anyone through the waves, the two 15-year-olds ran out with their kneeboards and soon found the man about 50m offshore caught in a rip and struggling to stay afloat.
"He had a boogie board but he couldn't stay on it. He was falling off. I told him to jump on my board," Josh said.
"We got on a few times and started paddling but kept falling off. In the end I told him to hop on and hold on to the handlebars in the front and I'd drag him in. It wasn't easy, with him falling off and being hit by waves."
The man was exhausted.
It was not known how long he had been in the water.
"He wasn't happy. He was pretty tired. He was saying a bit but I couldn't understand him," Josh said.
The trio eventually made their way to the shallows, where an older club member was waiting and helped take the man to the clubhouse's first-aid room.
The man was given oxygen and an ambulance was called.
Looking back on the rescue last night, Josh said he was not really thinking at the time, as all the training he had done as a club member kicked in. "I guess that's what we train for."
The rescue is Josh's first since he and Fletcher graduated as official lifeguards with their Bronze Awards last year.
"I'm a proper lifeguard now," he said.
A St John ambulance spokesman said they transported a 47-year-old man to Tauranga Hospital in a moderate condition.
Last week, Vivian Fosse Telfar, 54, drowned while swimming near Sutherland Ave at Mount Maunganui.