Two anonymous surfers have saved a Sydney man from drowning in a rip at Manyana on Anzac Day, one day after his 45th birthday.
Craig McLeod from Greenwich said he and his partner Liz Sherriff from Bondi were badly shaken.
While they expressed their gratitude, they were not in a frame of mind after his rescue to ask several people who helped them, including the surfers, who they were.
Ms Sherriff also got into trouble in the current but managed to struggle back to shore unassisted.
To acknowledge their rescuers, Mr McLeod contacted the Times to thank them publicly.
Mr McLeod knew he came within moments of death and “if these guys weren’t there I think I would have been in real strife”.
“I have no doubt that if [the surfers] were not there I wouldn't have made it.”
He and Ms Sherriff were spending the long weekend at a Manyana bed and breakfast and decided to swim in front of the park on the unpatrolled Inyadda beach that stretches south to Green Island.
“We knew there was a current but thought we were pretty safe,” Mr McLeod said.
“I went out to body surf and it happened very quickly. I was mid-torso, not far above the waist.
“It’s very hard to recount - I got to a point where I realised I was making no headway and it got worse from there.
“By then it seemed like I was about 100 metres out, well out of my depth. I was in a situation where I had no control.”
Mr McLeod said he was a reasonably strong swimmer but “was struggling to see a way out at one stage - I didn’t see the surfers were nearby”.
“I was looking towards shore. There were a few walkers, no-one swimming and I thought I’m not going to get any help from there.
“Then I looked over and saw these guys 50 metres away and put my hand up.
“They paddled over. I was pretty exhausted. They put my arms across a board and we waited a few minutes until my breathing settled but I was taking in a lot of water on the way in.
Back on shore Mr McLeod “was a bit out of it”.
“Another guy helped out on the beach - he offered to take us back to his place to recover, thinking we had packed up and checked out. There was also a woman there. Everyone was pretty amazing really.”
Craig and Liz both want to express their thanks again, especially to the surfers, whom Craig estimated to be “in their 30s or maybe 40s”.
"I had no control... if [the surfers] were not there I wouldn't have made it.”- Craig McLeod
“Liz was talking to the guys. One was a local I think, the other has a UK accent, they seemed to be mates.”
“You see people get rescued on TV and think they’re irresponsible but it restores your faith in people and how they react when someone is in strife.”
Mr McLeod has some experience in the surf “but not for a few years”.
In Sydney he and Ms Sherriff usually swim in sea pools or in harbour areas.
“She was as freaked out as what I was,” Mr McLeod said. “It was a very quiet car trip home.”
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