Beautiful, brutal, Bondi beach
I spent this week living in a happy bubble wandering around Bondi beach. Watching the sun rise. Sitting in the sun, getting sand between my toes, dipping my feet in the sea. Watching artists, surfers, swimmers, skaters, people doing yoga. I felt happy. I fell in love with Bondi beach.
Yesterday my bubble burst. I went down to the beach for a dip at around 4pm to find the beach standing still. Everyone was silent. Something was wrong.
A group of tourists went swimming in the sea at the south end of Bondi beach (quite far away from the flagged zone) and got into trouble. They were pulled out by a rip current. Surfers tried to help and then lifeguards rescued all five them. Three of them were fine. Two of them were not fine.
A huge crowd of lifeguards and paramedics surrounded a man and a woman. They performed CPR for what felt like an age. All I could feel and hear around me was silence and fear as the entire beach stood in hope of saving these two people's lives.
The woman was finally revived and taken to hospital where she remains in a critical condition on life support.
As for the man. They stopped working on him and the lifeguards and paramedics stood still. They didn't move him. They didn't rush him to hospital. They couldn't revive him. Sadly, he died on the beach. It was heartbreaking.
They were a married couple aged 69 and 66. They were on holiday. They were enjoying a sunny day on the beach and went in the sea for a swim with their friends. Just a normal holiday. They could be someone's parents, sister, brother. Thinking about them made my cry. The world can be so cruel.
I don't know if they were aware of rip currents and how to spot one or deal with one. I don't know if they realised that you're supposed to swim between the flagged zones.
If you get caught in a rip current, don't panic and just go with it. It doesn't pull down, it pulls along, so keep floating with it and save energy. Wave for help immediately. Try swimming parrallel to the shore to exit the current and when you're free swim back to shore. If it isn't working, take a break and try a different direction. Never swim against it. Keep calm.
The safest thing to do is to always swim between the flags. All the beaches here have flagged areas set up by lifeguards to keep people safe. I imagine there's less likely to be rip currents in those areas because they are chosen for swimming. Plus, lifeguards watch them, so you can raise awareness for help if you need it.