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Kid saves his cousin from a rip

Children taking part in the swim at the Wairarapa Kids Triathlon, practising vital swimming skills. PHOTO/LOGAN BARHAM

MARCUS ANSELM
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Young Cordell Lopa was the toast of two towns last week after his swimming skills saved his cousin’s life two weekends age.

Beach hero Cordell Lopa. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

Cordell, 10, from Lansdowne, was enjoying a day at the beach at busy Titahi Bay in Porirua with his cousin Kandis and family.

Kandis got into trouble in a rip but Cordell came to the rescue with a combination of bravery, quick thinking, and swimming skills.

Cordell said he was in the sea when he heard a scream.

He turned around and saw Kandis crying in the water and struggling to stay above the waves.

He swam towards her and helped her to back to the shore,

“I was paddling with my feet and using my other arm for support,” he said.

“When we were safe, she said thank you for saving her and gave me a hug.”

He said it took three or four minutes and he was exhausted afterwards.

Cordell’s father Namu said he was worried for Cordell after the weekend’s drama.

“He was emotional about the whole ordeal. I told him he didn’t do anything wrong. I told him it could be worse; for us, it could have been a different story, a different outcome.”

His mother Mereana said swimming skills were vital.

“Namu’s a diver, he loves diving, and water safety is so, so important to know.

“I can’t get over his bravery and how strong he has been.

“The feedback from our niece, who was watching, said he was exhausted he felt like collapsing when he got to shore with her.

“I was really proud of his bravery. Our niece and our family are very grateful.”

The family arrived back in Masterton last weekend and were exhausted and overwhelmed by the experience.

Cordell’s school, Lakeview, posted about his adventures on social media.

They were inundated with messages of support, and Cordell even spoke to local radio about the rescue.

Cordell learned his swimming skills at school and was taught by his parents.

Water Safety New Zealand recommend training children to swim in all conditions.

WSNZ chief executive Jonty Mills said the organisation had funded a study which found teaching children in open water helped them to retain the knowledge and prepared them well for life in New Zealand.

“This should definitely be a part of every child’s aquatic education,” he said.

“Pools play an important role but it is also important children are exposed to open water in a safe and controlled manner.”

Wairarapa Kids Triathlon organiser Judy Brown who has run the annual event for the past 25 years said swimming ability had been declining.

“The volunteers who have been with me the whole way through – that’s what they’ve noticed.

“They can still run, they can still bike fast, but man, there’s a lot of kids who are not even water safe.

“We’re breeding a generation of people who can’t swim.”

She said it was important that all children had the ability to learn how to swim and learned the basics of water safety because there was a lot of water around and it was a shame that so many school pools had closed.

South Wairarapa and Carterton provide free access to swimming pools during summer.

In Masterton, Trust House Recreation Centre delivers the Masterton District Council subsidised water safety and learn-to-swim programmes available to all pupils aged 10 to 13 from all primary schools in the district.

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