Near drowning at Hams Beach prompts renewed safety warning from Lake Macquarie lifeguards

IGNORED: Lake Macquarie's lifeguard team leader Paul Stone said swimmers who continued to swim at unpatrolled beaches in conditions they couldn't cope with were an ongoing concern. Picture: Darren Pateman
IGNORED: Lake Macquarie's lifeguard team leader Paul Stone said swimmers who continued to swim at unpatrolled beaches in conditions they couldn't cope with were an ongoing concern. Picture: Darren Pateman

The near drowning of a swimmer at a Lake Macquarie beach last week has prompted a familiar message from lifeguards – a message that is being ignored by many.

Swim between the flags, and swim only in conditions aligned with your ability.

That’s the tip from Lake Macquarie City Council’s professional beach lifeguards after the near drowning at Hams Beach, near Swansea.

Already more than 20 drownings have occurred across NSW since Christmas Day.

Council’s beach lifeguard team leader Paul Stone said beachgoers were putting themselves at risk by not heeding advice from lifeguards.

More than 50 rescues had already been carried out by Lake Macquarie’s professional lifeguards this season.

“A group of young tourists entered the water at Hams Beach, in an area that was not fit for swimming, and not only that, they were not competent swimmers,” Mr Stone said.

“Thanks to the quick action of our lifeguards, all swimmers were brought to the shore for ambulance attention, and a critical patient transferred to hospital.”

The seriousness of the near miss shows just how quickly things can go wrong.

“Our guys and girls on the beach are there to keep you safe, but it’s also important that you take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of your friends by actively seeking out patrolled locations,” Mr Stone said.

Council’s leisure services manager Brad Sutton said while the best possible outcome was reached last week the message of personal responsibility at the beach was not getting through.

“Over recent years, we’ve undertaken a best practice review, implemented high priorities from the recommendations, and continued first-class execution of lifeguard services on our beaches to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep people out of trouble, yet people still continue to unnecessarily put themselves at risk,” he said.

Mr Sutton said the safety of all beachgoers was a council priority and the introduction of a seven-day patrol service, as well as a lifeguard at Hams Beach, demonstrated that.