INCREASED lifeguard cover is required in Lahinch, according to a mother who had three teenagers rescued from a rip current by surf instructor, Tom Hennessy recently.
Barbara Jordan believes Clare County Council and other local authorities need to review the provision of lifeguards in view of the dramatic increase in open water swimming and water based activities throughout the country.
“There is no point in increasing cover after a drowning. If water safety is given more exposure, it will save lives. Water safety awareness should be taught in secondary schools.
“If a swimmer is caught in a rip current, they should swim parallel to it. There are currents in every beach across the country.
“When lifeguards are on duty they can direct swimmers away from rip currents. Lifeguards should be on duty full time from June to September inclusive with weekend cover from April.
“Clare Water Safety Association do an amazing job but it is up to the Council to put lifeguards in place.”
On Monday, May 17, Ms Jordan from Shannon, who is a regular visitor to Lahinch, decided to bring her daughter Robyn (16), and her friends, Hannah (15), Súin (16) and Ola (16) to the seaside and arrived in the afternoon between 2om and 3pm.
All of the four girls had wetsuits, were good swimmers and Ms Jordan emphasised the need for all of them to swim in their depth before they arrived at the beach.
Once the four girls went into the sea, Mr Jordan walked along the shoreline and when she looked up at the promenade and saw the ticket warden she realised she had forgot to put a ticket on her car.
“I ran back up to put a ticket on my car and when I ran back down I couldn’t see them in the water. I started to get worried so I ran to their clothes to see if they had come out because of the cold, but their clothes were still there.
“As I was running towards the shoreline, Ola had got out of the water. Ola was quite panicked and said ‘they can’t get out’. I trained as a pool lifeguard and worked as a swimming teacher. I told Ola to go to the surf shop and tell them we need help.
“I started to take off my jacket and shoes to go into the water. I couldn’t see them because they had got pulled into a rip current. I looked to my right and saw another surf instructor coming along the beach who was in a wet suit and had a surf board with him.”
Ms Jordan ran to this swim instructor and told him she had three teenagers in the water who were in trouble.
As Ms Jordan and this swim instructor were running towards the water, she didn’t realise that another swim instructor, Tom Hennessy was already out in the sea and had saw the girls were in trouble.
Tom brought Súin, who was most panicked, in first and asked Robyn to stay with Hannah.
Ms Jordan ran into the water got Súin and reassured her. Tom went back out, directed Robyn to swim in and put Hannah on the surf board.
She recalled the girls were very upset and in shock so she brought them back to their clothes to help them get warm again. With the help of deep breathing, the girls calmed down.
As someone who is very water safety conscious swimming in May to October, Ms Jordan stated she is aware of dangers in the sea.
She thanked Tom, who pointed out the girls got caught in a rip current, which requires local knowledge.
Following the provision of rock armour coastal protection works, she said this has changed currents and tides in Lahinch that people may not be aware of.
by Dan Danaher