What are the chances of two members of one family being on different parts of the beach helping rescue two swimmers — both from Auckland — at the same time?

It happened last Friday close to 5pm, when lifeguards from Whangamata Surf Life Saving Club were about to go off duty.

Rescued swimmer Ted Collett from Howick begins the story.

"We arrived here just after midday and about 5pm I went for a swim in the ocean, just along from the surf club," Collett says.

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"The water was a bit rough but not too bad so when I got out up to my knees I dived in -
and all of a sudden I was pulled backward.

"I put my hand up as there was an IRB going by but they didn't see me. I later heard they were on the way to rescue someone else."

Collett says he probably made a couple of mistakes.

"I know you're supposed to relax and not fight the current but I did try to get back to the beach. And I was also waving my arm — apparently I should've just raised my arm and kept it still."

He made no progress and was getting tired and beginning to swallow water when he heard a voice say "Are you okay, mate?"

That someone was Luke Baxter, who says: "I was just coming in from a surf and saw something out of the corner of my eye.

"I asked [Ted] if he was okay and he said 'no, I need help'. So I paddled over to him and got him to hang on to the surfboard. Once he got that he seemed to be okay."

It was impossible to stay on the board in the rough water and the two men made no headway against the current until they decided one should push and the other pull the surfboard.

"The rip was just holding us where we were. By pushing and pulling we made it back.

"Quite a few people had, by then, gathered to watch — there was nothing they could have done," Baxter says.

Meanwhile, further along the beach, Baxter's son Otis, aged 11, was also coming in from a surf. On shore was his mate Jesse Ford, 13.

"There was a man swimming out there but the man's wife was worried about him and asked Otis if he could go out on his board and help him," Jesse says.

Otis headed out to help the man and Jesse sprinted along the beach to the surf club.

"They were just closing up but we got an IRB to the man, who was from Pukekohe."

That was the IRB that passed Ted.

"If Luke hadn't been out there I'm sure I'd be pushing up daisies by now," Collett says.

When Baxter got back to the surf club he learned that his son had helped rescue the other man.

The next day, after discovering who his rescuer had been, Collett took Baxter and Otis to lunch at Blackies.

Coastal News was unable to contact the man rescued by Otis and Jesse.

Police Constable Glenn Matheson, who was called to the second rescue praised the boys for their efforts.

Luke Baxter, left rear, rescued Ted Collett, right rear, from drowning while at the same time Otis Baxter, front left, and Jesse Ford were also busy saving a man. Photo / Lesley Staniland
Luke Baxter, left rear, rescued Ted Collett, right rear, from drowning while at the same time Otis Baxter, front left, and Jesse Ford were also busy saving a man. Photo / Lesley Staniland

"It was an awesome effort by the young boys and to execute the rescue like that, it showed initiative and competence.

"Congratulations to the family — it was a great effort!"