Ballina Lighthouse Surf Lifesaving Club’s (from left) president Kris Beavis, lifesaver Will O’Donnell, and (background) captain Andrew Dougherty.
Ballina Lighthouse Surf Lifesaving Club’s (from left) president Kris Beavis, lifesaver Will O’Donnell, and (background) captain Andrew Dougherty. Doug Eaton

Swimmers told to take extra care

FORGET sharks – the biggest challenge for lifeguards on the Northern Rivers is getting people to swim between the flags.

Yesterday was the last official day of beach patrols, and Northern NSW Lifeguard co-ordinator Scott McCartney said it had been a busy season.

“Unfortunately, we did have those fatalities at South Ballina, Lighthouse Beach and Yamba,” he said.

“There were a lot of people on the beaches – the numbers just keep increasing.

“It shows that tourism is booming again.

“It’s been good.

“And the weather was really good as well.”

However, Mr McCartney admitted they were no closer to finding a solution to the problem of how to teach tourists to swim between the red and yellow flags.

“At places like Byron and Ballina, we are getting new tourists all the time,” he said.

“We’re trying to inform people (to swim between the flags), but we still haven’t found an effective way.

“It’s hard.

“We hand out information to caravan parks and hostels, but we can’t guarantee that visitors are going to read it.

“It’s something that we are working on.

“One of things we have started doing this year is really encouraging our lifeguards to talk to people.

“We think that can make a big difference.”

With the official lifeguard season now over, Mr McCartney said sea swimmers should be particularly careful if they were going into the water.

RESCUE STATS

• Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Lifesaving Club: 21 rescues and 944 preventative actions.

• Byron Bay: 8 rescues and 753 preventative actions.

• Lennox Head/Alstonville: 16 rescues and 951 preventative actions.



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