Lifesaver - three times round

SIX years of surf life saving with Black Head Surf Club came in handy on Tuesday evening for 18-year-old Madi Rowe.

Because of her actions and with the assistance of some local body boarders, a local family including mother, daughter and family friend were saved from an intense rip at Black Head back beach.

Madi, her father Darren and brother Dave had headed to the back beach on Tuesday afternoon for a quick swim.

Originally Madi wasn't even going to head down but she decided to join them because it had been particularly hot that day.

They took a tennis ball with them and although she'd noticed the family swimming in the shallows when they arrived, she quickly forgot about them once she'd hit the water.

Just as Madi, her dad and brother were going to head in, they heard the panicked calls for help from the woman and two young girls.

"I ran out of the water with dad and called my mum because we knew she was at the surf club at the time," Madi explained.

"I ended up putting her on to dad though because I knew it would take too long for someone to get there and they'd already been washed out so far."

Madi entered the water and began yelling to the trio, trying to direct them to swim across the rip.

"But they just weren't listening, they were too panicked, understandably, so after speaking with another woman on the beach, I just knew I had to go out there to them," she said nonchalantly.

Even when the Times caught up with Madi, she was modest about what she had done, explaining that she had acted on instinct and would have no hesitation in doing it again.

"I got out to them and found that the elder girl was doing okay and had started to get in with the help of the waves so I left her and headed out to the little girl.

"The little girl was great, she was calm and she listened to what I said but her mum was further out and couldn't get to us so I swam us both out to meet her.

"They were both getting tired so I held out my arms and let them hold on to me while I kept treading water, but eventually I had to keep the little girl's head out of the water because she was struggling," Madi said.

Madi can't remember how long it was before a couple of local body boarders came over and helped the older girl in to shore, while another a 14 year old boy stayed with Madi and the two others for a while.

"Then they managed to get the two into shore while I waited for someone to come and help me, and I knew mum had people coming from the surf club so I just stayed calm and waited."

By this stage Madi was the length of a football field out to sea and very fatigued.

The conditions were terrible for even the most seasoned surf life savers and it took a long time for the board to get through the waves, being dunked several times in the process.

All three victims were taken by ambulance to Manning Hospital and were in a state of shock when Madi last saw them.

Madi's family and the surf club are so proud of her efforts with surf club president Geoff Jackson describing her as a hero.

"The Rowe family, and especially Madi deserve huge accolades for what they have done. Her decision to attempt a rescue of three people is an unselfish act of bravery," he said.

"She learnt her skills at the surf club and this enabled her to react the way she did to save these people and prevent a terrible tragedy from occurring."

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