Decades later, the beach still gives me nightmares
I WONDER how many people have been saved by surf lifesavers?
I'm guessing one in five, probably more.
The ocean is not to be messed with.
It's unforgiving, unpredictable and at times, dangerous.
Last year, our dedicated surf lifesavers administered first aid more than 8000 times and saved more than 300 swimmers.
Sadly though, six people lost their lives on our beaches.
My job and time frames don't allow me to go to the beach all that often, but I'll never forget the day I nearly became one of those statistics.
Part of me flashes back to that day every time my feet hit the water.
I can't have been older than eight.
10 at the absolute most.
It was my first encounter with a flash rip and for a few scary moments, I was utterly helpless.
Like a fly trapped in a spider web, the more I struggled, the more out of my depth I became.
I remember my eyes being wide with fear, unable to speak, literally clutching onto my board for dear life.
Thoughts of putting my hand up went out the window.
All I could think about was getting back to shore.
It wasn't that I couldn't swim, I was a squad trainer at the time, but this was an entirely different beast to the pool to which I was accustomed.
Volunteers saved me that day, calmly bringing me into shore safe and well like it was nothing. I don't even remember thanking them.
I don't even know if the conditions were particularly bad that day - it's beside the point.
Those heroic volunteers saved the day and do so every day.
This year my thanks will be hard earned cash - I can't think of a better cause to go towards.