Luca Broome got thrown in the deep end. And, boy did he swim.
Broome, 14, in his rookie year as a surf lifeguard pulled off a dramatic rescue of an 80-year-old man in trouble at Waimarama Beach on Tuesday evening.
The man was one of six saved on the beach by lifeguards in the past three days, with hot and deceptively calm and dangerous conditions catching out people of all ages.
Broome was warming up on a paddle board about 5.45pm, having arrived earlier than other lifeguards for what is their regular training season for championships.
The only lifeguard around, he spotted the elderly man on his back floating, about 100 metres out from the beach.
"He had gotten caught in a rip and had tried to swim back, but he got tired," Rhys Harman, director of lifeguarding at Waimarama, said.
Luca used his knee board to paddle out to the man and pull him up on to it, before bringing him to shore.
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The 14-year-old performed the rescue with aplomb, Harman said.
Broome said he knew the man was in trouble because he'd watched him for a bit and he was "getting nowhere".
"It was my first rescue and I was nervous," Broome said.
"I went over to him and he said he was getting tired, so I pulled him on my board and paddled him to shore.
"He was very grateful, his wife came and thanked me."
It was Broome's first rescue as a lifeguard and he was understandably chuffed.
"I have been involved in the club since I was five or six. I am doing all the qualifications I can," Broome said.
Harman commended Broome for his efforts and said the man was lucky. Had it not been for Broome, his swim could have had a different ending, he said.
The other rescues at the beach recently were equally dramatic with one particular rescue involving three people at the same time.
It happened around 7pm on Monday when lifeguards had just finished their SFLS competition training, Harman said.
"They decided to go for a swim to cool down," he said.
"While they were swimming they looked across and saw a woman and two kids caught in a rip and swept out to sea.
"The lifeguards swam across about 70 metres.
"Three of the lifeguards grabbed one of the kids, who was between 12 and 15 years-old, and pulled him 10 to 15 metres so he could stand.
"One lifeguard helped the lady, in her mid 30s, and the other kid. More lifeguards on paddle boards saw them and brought them to shore."
He said if it had not been for the lifeguards, who were there purely by chance, the headlines might not have been positive.
"If not for the lifeguards the potential for drowning was quite high, because of the rip and the danger the rip posed."
A young girl, aged approximately six, and part of a Tongan Youth Group, was another rescue which sprung to Harman's mind.
On Sunday the beach was crowded with 500 to 600 people, including the youth group comprising 250 people.
"The young girl got separated from her parents. The water was deceptively calm, and dangerous.
"There were some strong rips. A lifeguard rescued her with a rescue tube. It was a great rescue."
He said he expected another busy weekend with temperatures hitting the mid-30s.
"For us it is nothing new.
"We are definitely ramping up lifeguard numbers and we are going to keep doing what we do to the best of our abilities."