TWO teenage girls had to be rescued after they were swept out to sea following an evening swim off the coast of New Brighton.
It was the girls’ own quick thinking that emergency services saved their lives as they clung desperately to rocks at the end of the breakwater near Fort Perch Rock.
Members of the public had reported seeing several youths in trouble in the water shortly before 7pm on Saturday, with the RNLI’s New Brighton lifeboat quickly launched into action.
The breakwater was covered by the incoming eight metre tide and close to high water.
New Brighton’s senior helmsman Dave Lowe, who was in charge of the lifeboat, said: “It took us only a few minutes from our launch to reach the area.
“The girls were in the water, clinging desperately to the rocks of the breakwater and in a very distressed state.”
The crew soon found that they could not approach the teens from the lighthouse side as there was insufficient depth of water.
Mr Lowe continued: “Our only option was to go around to the seaward side and put Helmsman Mike Plaskett into the water to safeguard and reassure the girls and help with transferring them onto the lifeboat.
“It was difficult to see and maintain position beam on to the breakwater with the choppy sea which was causing the lifeboat to rise and fall significantly with the swell and ensure no harm came to those in the water or damage the lifeboat.
“With difficulty we managed to haul the girls on board one at a time then recovered Mike.”
The girls had cuts to their legs and hands, were cold and very distressed.
Crew members wrapped them in blankets before returning them straight to the beach where they were treated by awaiting paramedics who took them to Arrowe Park Hospital.
“The girls told us that they had gone for a swim, been caught by the current and being swept out to sea,” said Mr Lowe.
“They just managed to grab a hold onto the rocks at the end of the breakwater, this probably saved their lives.”
The RNLI crew was cheered on by customers at the nearby Wetherspoon pub who had been watching the rescue from the balcony.
Following the dramatic rescue, lifeboat operations manager Graham Sale warned the public of the dangers of swimming in the seas during the current warm spell.
He said: “Teamwork, dedication and great seamanship were key features of the rescue which turned out well in the end.
“This could easily have ended in tragedy had their shouts for help not been heard in time.
“It is so important to understand the dangers of the sea shore in particular the tide times, currents and location of safe areas for bathing.
“The breakwater in this case was a lifesaver but normally an area to avoid. If you go into the water sea temperatures may not be as high as you may expect.”
A man also had to be rescued on Saturday after he became stuck part way along the breakwater. It is not known if he too was trying to reach the girls.