Tot's drowning low point of busy life saving season

By Victoria White

1 comment
Ocean Beach lifeguards train at Napier's inner harbour.
Ocean Beach lifeguards train at Napier's inner harbour.

With summer well and truly over, Hawke's Bay's Surf Life Saving clubs have brought in the red and yellow flags.

All the region's clubs have now closed - finishing during the past two weeks with Easter marking the official end to the patrol season.

While official statistics have not been collated yet, the region's lifesavers contributed to the more than 1328 people rescued during the season.

Ocean Beach Kiwi SLSC committee member and surf lifeguard Jess Bennett said they had a fairly successful season, aside from two worrying incidents.

A toddler drowned at the beach on Christmas Day which had been "pretty tough" on the lifeguards involved, and during the last weekend of patrols a woman needed rescuing from strong swells.

"That's what we train for," Ms Bennett said, "the biggest thing is making people aware of swimming between the flags and knowing their limits.

"The drownings across the country this summer are concerning.

"We're in the space of trying to come up with new ways of educating the guards, and the public."

Water Safety New Zealand reported there had been 31 drownings as of March 24, fewer than the 38 at the same time last year.

Westshore SLSC director of lifeguarding Brian Quirk said their younger members had really shone this season, and had been the backbone of the club.

The club's patrols had clocked about 2100 hours.

Mr Quirk had carried out patrol inspections of all clubs at the end of the season, and said patrols around Hawke's Bay were all doing well.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand National Lifesaving and Education Manager Allan Mundy said lifeguards spent more than 200,000 hours on patrol this summer.

During the 2015-2016 season to date there were 55 preventative drownings, 25 per cent of which were at unpatrolled beaches.

At the same time last year there had been 50 preventative drowning's with 26 per cent at beaches.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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