A Christmas Eve turn as a lifesaving hero in 2018 made Melbourne Storm star, and former nipper, Harry Grant all too aware of the perils of the waters people will flock to this summer.
Grant was walking with his parents at unpatrolled Oxley Beach in Port Macquarie, NSW when they spotted two women struggling in the surf and he “did what anyone would do” and jumped in to drag them to safety.
Having spent his teen years patrolling beaches at Yeppoon all Grant’s instincts kicked in.
“I Just went down to the beach in the morning with my mum and dad, and then heard someone in a bit of strife , I didn’t really know what it was,” Grant recalled.
“A mother and daughter got dragged out to sea in a rip, and anyone would have done the same thing, and instincts took over and we helped them in which pretty special to see how grateful they were.
“I love the beach and I’ve always grown up on the beach, and did nippers for a long time in primary school years and then it sort of went on to life saving and the patrol side of things.
“ I having that experience and learning those things , early days, you sort of you’re confident in the water and you can carry it in a situation like that.”
Grant has teamed up with Geelong premiership captain and AFL legend Joel Selwood, who coincidentally has joined Storm as a leadership consultant, as ambassadors for a Surf Life Saving Australia campaign that aims to reduce drowning deaths this summer.
Coastal drowning deaths are 3 to 4 times more likely to occur on summer public holidays, and men are nine times more likely to drown than women.
Selwood is a former pool lifeguard too and along with Grant will refresh their ocean skills with Nutri-Grain Ironwomen Georgia Miller and Harriet Brow and help promote a clear message to Aussie families that the ocean is unpredictable and can be dangerous.
“The group that I grew up with. everyone‘s really passionate about it and we understand that. Saying that not everyone has that luxury of what we had as kids,” Grant said.
“As long as we can create a bit of awareness and a bit of understanding on how unpredictable the beach can be at times, hopefully we can save some lives along the way.
Surf Life Saving Australia volunteers perform over 11,000 rescues and more than 1.3 million patrol hours each year. But half of coastal drowning deaths occur more than five kilometres away from surf lifesaving services, highlighting the importance of swimming at a patrolled beach.
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