Swim PilotingRescuing Swimmers

Rescuing Swimmers

You may need to rescue a swimmer when their health is flagging, or it becomes clear that they will not make it to their destination. 

Eventually you will have to call it for a swimmer. Even strong swimmers can need help. As a club we pull many swimmers every year even inside the cove.

Motorized Craft 

Even with two people aboard an AB, it can be hard to pull a cold and fatigued swimmer aboard. 

The pull

Rescue with parbuckle. 

Aussie Surf Lifesaving have honed the technique for pulling swimmers into an inflatable boat. This is a really tremendous video on how to do recovery from inflatable boats. The driver skill is very high. 

Observer Craft,  (Shells, SUPs, Kayaks) 

Since these craft do not have the ability to rescue a swimmer. Your goal is to get help fro, a motorized craft.. 

  • Radio
  • Paddles-up
  • Holler

When a pilot has a distressed swimmer hanging onto their craft (kayaks and SUPs should make the swimmer grab the bow, if the swimmer attempts to hang onto the side they could tip the pilot over), 

When swimmers get tired and cold, they can start feeling alone, frightened. They may become scared, irrational and paranoid or combative. 

If a swimmer pauses for too long, their core temperature will start to drop. If help is not readily available, keep the swimmer swimming.  Many swimmers will know the phrase “Shut Up and Swim.” Tell them to swim 25 or 50 strokes and kick, too.

SUP Flip Rescue
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9FaRz4gCSs

Kayak Rescue (Back Deck Carry)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rZjn5-ISSg 

Whitehalls and LiteBoats 

If motorized vessels are busy or unavailable, Whitehalls or LiteBoats may be called to rescue a swimmer. 

When a pilot has a distressed swimmer hanging onto their craft (kayaks and SUPs should make the swimmer grab the bow, if the swimmer attempts to hang onto the side they could tip the pilot over), they should hold an oar or paddle in the air to signal a motorized pilot that assistance is needed.

<< Video of how to recover a swimmer onto a whitehall >>

One way to pull a swimmer: ask the swimmer to kick flat in the water, so you are pulling the swimmer in sideways, not lifting up (against gravity).   Be prepared to get wet!

Once you have the swimmer onboard, notify the lead pilot on the event channel of your radio, or hold your oar vertically in the air to summon a motorized craft and if necessary, treat the swimmer for hypothermia.