19/07/2024

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Teen girls, 13 and 14, — including Olympic-hopeful — rescue UK couple from riptide in Barbados

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Teen girls, 13 and 14, — including Olympic-hopeful — rescue UK couple from riptide in Barbados

Two young teenage girls — including one with dreams of swimming in the Olympics — dove into a dangerous riptide to rescue a British couple from drowning off a Barbados beach earlier this month.

Emma Bassermann, 14, and Zoe Ireland-Meklensek, 13, have been credited for saving the lives of Belinda and Robert Stone — the latter of whom is about twice their size — by bringing them to shore on Jan. 3.

The Canadian teens jumped into action after hearing Belinda screaming for help at the beach, which had no lifeguards on duty at the time.

The couple, both in their 60s, were enjoying a peaceful afternoon on the Barbados beach, floating in the water when they got caught up in a dangerous riptide.

“We swam out, not that far but enough to be out of our depth,” Belinda told the Washington Post Wednesday.

The Londoners, who both consider themselves to be strong swimmers, were vacationing in the area and didn’t realize that area of the beach was known for its riptides.

Emma Bassermann, 14, who is training for the Olympics, and Zoe Ireland-Meklensek, 13, jumped into action after hearing Belinda Stone screaming for help. Global News
Belinda and her husband Robert, both in their 60s, were enjoying a peaceful afternoon on a Barbados beach, floating in the water when they got caught up in a dangerous riptide on Jan. 3. CBC News: The National

Belinda tried to swim against the current back to shore but soon realized her husband wasn’t keeping pace and was far behind.

The 64-year-old kept swimming toward the beach in hopes of getting help while screaming out.

After a few minutes of yelling, she started to think the worst and told the Washington Post she was glad she “left our wills on the dining room table.”

However, their holiday wouldn’t end in tragedy as Bassermann and Ireland-Meklensek spotted her from 85 feet away and swam over to the Brit.

“I heard their cries in the water,” Ireland-Meklensek told City News.

“Our adrenaline kicked in and everything that we learned came back to us in that moment,” Bassermann, who is training for the Olympics, told the Canadian outlet.

The two Montreal teens helped Belinda up on their boogie board and began to swim parallel to shore to get her to safety, all while she told them her husband was still out in the water.

Belinda tried to swim against the current back to shore but soon realized her husband wasn’t keeping pace and was far behind. Global News
Bassermann and Ireland-Meklensek spotted Belinda from 85 feet away and swam over to the Brit. The two Montreal teens helped Belinda up on their boogie board and began to swim parallel to shore to get her to safety. Global News

“She said her husband was further out, and he was struggling to swim,” Ireland-Meklensek told the DC-based paper. “I told her to hold on tight, and I strapped the boogie board tether to my wrist. Emma was by my side for support.”

After getting her to shore, the two dove back into the water, even as Belinda warned against it as the pair were so young. The girls brushed it off, telling her they were in town for a swimming camp and were experienced in the water.

The girls swam out 165 feet to grab 68-year-old Robert and used their board to pull him to safety, while reassuring him that “his wife was okay and he was going to be okay,” Ireland-Meklensek said.

Despite their experience, the teens admitted the second trip was tiring as the “current kept pulling me back,” Ireland-Meklensek said, but they managed to make it out of the dangerous conditions.

The girls swam out 165 feet to grab 68-year-old Robert and used their board to drag him in safely, as while reassuring him that “his wife was okay and he was going to be okay,” Ireland-Meklensek said. CBC News: The National

Afterward, the girls said they made a “really good team” and Belinda said she was wowed by their “calmness.”

“I do not think that there are many girls like Zoe and Emma. I just cannot get over how serene and poised they both were,” she told the Washington Post. “What an example for other people. These girls were tremendous and so self-effacing.

“They really were like a couple of angels on that beach.”

Both girls have been competitive swimmers for years, with Bassermann now training for the Canadian Summer Olympic swimming trials with her coach, Chuck Meklensek — the father of Ireland-Meklensek.

Ireland-Meklensek stopped competing last year to focus on basketball.

Meklensek said he was “really proud” and “impressed” with the girls’ bravery. He also told the Washington Post that he was shocked they were able to pull a man the size of him into shore by themselves.

The Quebec Lifesaving Society is planning on honoring the girls for their heroic act, as well as Ireland-Meklensek’s school, according to Global News.

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