A WARRNAMBOOL swimmer caught in a rip at the Flume on Saturday has thanked two lifesavers for saving her and her friend’s life.
Bree Paige, 19, was swimming with her friend Jesse Curran, 18, when they got caught in a rip about 2.30pm Saturday.
Ms Paige said they were dragged out to sea and constantly smashed under by waves.
“We couldn’t breathe. I thought we were both going to die,” Ms Paige said.
“At one stage I got pushed under by a wave and didn’t know which way was up or down.
“I was coughing up water and the waves just kept coming,” she said.
Across Victoria on Saturday, two fathers drowned trying to rescue their sons and a third man died while snorkelling with friends at separate unpatrolled beaches.
Ms Paige said she and a couple of friends went to the Flume about 2pm for a swim.
“I go there three times a week. I think I’m a pretty confident swimmer but I won’t be going back,” Ms Paige said.
“I’ll be going to the pool.
“We just went there for something to do.
“Jesse and I decided to go out into the water a bit further.
“We were swimming on our backs and I realised we couldn’t stand up any more, we were off the sand bank.
“Jesse said ‘let’s swim in’ but we just kept getting dragged out by the rip.
“Jesse can only dog paddle and these huge waves just kept coming and coming.”
The Warrnambool Base Hospital phlebotomist said both young women were having trouble breathing and she thought they would both die.
“This massive wave came and dumped me,” Ms Paige said.
“I was spun around and swimming but I wasn’t sure if I was going up or down.
“Jesse grabbed my hands.
“We held on to each other and started screaming.
“Jesse was coughing and couldn’t breathe.
“I’ve never seen death on someone’s face.
“We were screaming out for anyone to help us and we kept getting dunked.”
Ms Paige said a man on a boogie board then arrived.
“Jesse has a baby so I wanted her to go first,” Ms Paige said.
“We couldn’t get anywhere when we were both on the boogie board.
“They went in but I didn’t see her for ages,” she said.
“I kept getting pushed under.
“Two girl lifesavers swam out.
“For some reason I couldn’t believe they weren’t wearing yellow.
“They told me to turn around, face the waves and hold my breath whenever a wave came.
“Another massive wave tumbled me. I did a backflip.”
The swimmer said a surfer on a large board also came to provide assistance.
“I got on to his board,” Ms Paige said.
“He showed me what to do.
“He got on the back of the board. Another big wave came. He pushed me in and I went the whole way in.
“It was all very scary.
“Everyone got together on the beach.
“It was very traumatising.
“Two people reading a book had told the girl lifesavers we were in trouble.
“I didn’t even get their names.
“I thought we were going to die.”
Ms Paige said she had trouble talking after the incident.
“The people who tried to help us were amazing,” Ms Paige said
“If it wasn’t for the lifesavers we would probably be dead.”