As reported on www.geelongadvertiser.com.au
AN Aireys Inlet man rescued eight tourists from the surf at Painkalac beach on Sunday after they became caught in a rip.
Richard Atkinson had just arrived at the beach with his wife and two boys when a strong current dragged a group of children 200m from the shore about 3pm.
Minutes later, adults who had entered the water to save the children also became caught in a rip and needed help.
Mr Atkinson paddled out to the first group of three on his longboard and brought them to shore, before making two more trips to rescue the remainder of the group.
He said the boys furthest from the shore were quite frightened when he reached them on his third trip.
At the height of the drama, one of the boys lost consciousness and went under the water before Mr Atkinson dived under and returned him to the surface.
An Ivanhoe man then performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on two of the children on the sand before paramedics and police arrived.
“It was scary because two of the kids just collapsed on the beach. They were lucky that another guy who knew CPR was there to help them,” Mr Atkinson said.
Sgt Bill Matthews, of Lorne police, yesterday said the pair did a fantastic job.
However, Mr Atkinson remained modest about his selfless act.
“It was nothing heroic. You’re there and you can swim, so you help out, that’s basically what it is,” he said.
His children were not so modest, proudly sharing the story of their father’s heroics during show and tell at school yesterday morning.
Mr Atkinson said he was just relieved that the Melbourne visitors were OK.
“They really weren’t aware of how far out they had drifted and they were slowly getting to the inlet mouth when they lost their footing and got caught in the rip. It was just lucky that I went down with my G board because I wouldn’t have been able to physically drag them in,” he said.
“It really is a surreal sort of feeling though. I did feel strangely emotional after it.”
Mr Atkinson, who has surfed since childhood, urged swimmers to be careful near unfamiliar waters and swim at patrolled beaches where possible.
“A lot of things went their way. Hopefully it’s a lesson for everyone, to learn how to swim properly and swim at patrolled beaches,” he said.