ACT News

Canberra to play important role in beach safety this summer

Lifesavers on the NSW South Coast are preparing for another busy summer and have urged Canberrans to swim at patrolled beaches with temperatures set to pass 26 degrees this weekend. 

NSW South Coast Life Saving director Andrew Edmunds said the season started a fortnight ago and patrols were already operating at seven clubs with new recruits undergoing training.

On Monday, two children and a kayaker were "very fortunate to escape" a strong outgoing tide at the mouth of the Pambula River and were rescued by lifesavers from the Pambula Surf Life Saving Club. 

Mr Edmunds will be hoping for an improvement on the 2013-14 surf lifesaving season when two lives were lost on the south coast due to drownings and another to a fatal shark attack at Tathra Beach.  

Canberrans may play a crucial role in that mission with up to 60 volunteers from the ACT set to assist with beach patrols this year. 

Advertisement

"A large number of people are joining from the Canberra region which is always good to see," he said.

"There are some diehard Canberrans who make the trek to the coast each weekend and they are now forming a large part of our contingent down here.

"We've got a large number at Broulee, Batemans Bay, Moruya and even some further down south at Tathra."

Mr Edmunds said volunteer numbers were " a little up and down" for the 2014 season with plenty of volunteers at popular beaches and dwindling numbers at smaller, more isolated beaches.

"They're struggling at Bermagui where they only have about 20 members but all up there's around 2000 volunteers on the far south coast," he said. 

Bermagui, a small town between Bega and Moruya, is a small town which does not have a large population to tap into unlike other clubs on the south coast.

Mr Edmunds said those thinking about becoming surf lifesavers could be ready for action after a six-week "bronze medallion" course combining practical and theoretical training.

"The practical components are taught at the beach while the theory classes can be taken in Canberra twice a year, which is the option a lot of Canberra based volunteers have taken," he said.

But Mr Edmunds wasn't convinced all Canberrans knew how to swim safely in the surf and urged beachgoers to exercise caution with a sunny long-weekend ahead.

"Just really make sure you do head to the patrolled beaches as a lot of the people who get into trouble are from Canberra.

"When it warms up people just want to get in the water and it's so easy for things to go wrong." 

More than 260 people drowned in Australia last year, in what has been described as a "moderate but promising" 10 per cent decline on the previous year's figures.

Advertisement