The 'boaties' of the Broulee Surf Life Saving Club practiced their skills on a rather unconventional target on Friday morning – a kangaroo that got into strife paddling across Lake Burley Griffin.
Two crews were training in the east basin near the boat house when they spotted what they believed to be female in the water near the Kingston apartments in a state of distress around 6.40am.
"We couldn't get anywhere near it, it was hovering and hiding and the girls decided they wanted to go rescue it or to help it get back onto the wall," club sweep, Gary Pettigrove said.
But when they closed in, the roo decided to make like Michael Klim and swim for it.
"It started to swim back to the bank with the cows, which is the nice side of the bank for it to be on, and it got about halfway across before it started to go into what we call a 'tired swimmer pose' and all of a sudden it sunk under the water," he said.
Luckily the crew had decided to follow it and one of the rowers in the second boat Ryan Austin decided to leap into action.
"Ryan dived into the water and swam over and picked it up and brought it back to the surface. It bit him on the hand so someone said 'let's put a jumper on its head to calm it down' so Amy took her jumper off and threw it on top of its head and it was right for about 10 seconds and then the jumper fell off and fell to the bottom of the lake.
"He held onto the boat and we rowed across the lake with one hand on the boat and one hand on the kangaroo. We then carried the kangaroo onto the paddock, it stood up alright, it didn't need CPR or anything it was fine. It looked at us as if to say thanks and we rowed back."
Unluckily for Amy, her car and house keys were in the pocket of the jumper.
Mr Pettigrove said they went back to see if they could retrieve it, but to no avail.
"Amy's now still trying to get a locksmith to get her car open and get her house keys. She doesn't have a spare car key so she has to get her locks changed. She's without a car and her handbag. All the girls were happy we saved the kangaroo but they were sad for poor old Amy," he said.
The crews - who live and work in Canberra and patrol the beaches of Broulee in summer - have rescued a couple of flat boat rowers in the past but have never had to step in to save any wildlife before.
As they were out on the water training, none of the crew had a camera or phone on them, but Mr Pettigrove said it's something they'll never forget.
"We've never seen a kangaroo swimming. There's lots of pelicans and cormorants and swans and they give us a hard time if we go anywhere near them. It's very unusual. We don't normally see kangaroos there at all," he said.
"It was lucky there were lifesavers there, otherwise it would have drowned totally."
It's not the first time humans have come to the rescue of a marsupial which overestimated its swimming abilities in Lake Burley Griffin.
Last year the Diamond Phoenix dragon boaters pulled a female kangaroo from the drink.