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Trainee lifesavers nominated for top award after preventing tragedy

Patrick James, February 13, 2022 2:30PM Kids News

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Lachlan Larven, right, and Toby Sutton, both 14, sprang into action to save a drowning woman's life in January. The pair have been nominated for a surf bravery award. Picture: Dean Martin media_cameraLachlan Larven, right, and Toby Sutton, both 14, sprang into action to save a drowning woman's life in January. The pair have been nominated for a surf bravery award. Picture: Dean Martin


Reading level: green

A training drill turned into real-life drama for two SA teenagers, who are being praised for their rescue of a woman struggling in water at one of Adelaide’s popular beaches.

Lachlan Larven and Toby Sutton, both 14, have been nominated* for Surf Life Saving Australia’s top award after springing to action to help the distressed* woman off Glenelg beach on January 20.

The pair, Surf Life Saving SA members at Glenelg and Somerton, were doing ski-paddle training for their Junior State Championships when they noticed the woman in strife 300m offshore.

Hero teen surf life savers media_cameraLachlan Larven, left, and Toby Sutton, both 14, were doing ski-paddle training on January 20 when they noticed a woman in trouble 300m offshore at Glenelg beach. Picture: Dean Martin

“We were paddling along and Lachie was a bit ahead of me, he’s called me over to the lady who wasn’t in any good shape,” Toby, of North Brighton, said.

“We just did what we thought was right, tried to help her and I was glad there were people there to help us, it just went really well.”

A beachgoer heard the woman’s screams and called SA Police who launched the water operations boat to help the boys bring the woman back to shore.

The woman was passed Lachlan’s lifejacket to keep her afloat before help arrived.

Lachlan, of Glenelg, said, it “feels good” to have helped save a life.

media_cameraThe friends and volunteer surf lifesavers have been nominated for a surf bravery award after the successful rescue operation. Picture: SLSSA

The pair have since been nominated for the SLSSA Rescue Medal, which recognises courageous* and outstanding achievements by local volunteers.

SLSSA lifesaving and emergency operations officer Sonya Williamson said Lachlan and Toby were “thoroughly deserving” of the award.

“The quick response both Lachie and Toby displayed to save the woman was well beyond their years and a testament* to their bravery, plus their training,” Ms Williamson said.

“Lachie and Toby are great role models.”

The pair said they had no hesitation* helping the woman.

“I felt pretty sure of what I was doing, we’ve done the training and it was good to know we could help someone,” Toby said.


  • nominated: put forward, suggested, proposed, recommended
  • distressed: experiencing difficulty, suffering, badly affected
  • courageous: fearless, brave, valiant, heroic
  • testament: proof, evidence, demonstration
  • hesitation: pausing, delaying, waiting


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  1. What kind of training were the boys doing as the drama unfolded?
  2. How far offshore was the woman when she got into difficulty?
  3. At which popular Adelaide beach did the rescue take place?
  4. What did they pass the woman to keep her afloat until help arrived?
  5. What is the name of the award they have been nominated for?


1. Draw it
Draw a bird’s-eye view diagram that illustrates this event. Include labels for objects in the water, a scale to show distance, arrows to show which way people or vessels travelled and numbers to show the sequence of events.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Mathematics

2. Extension
Write an imaginative recount of this event as though you were a witness seeing what happened from on the beach or a boat. Remember to write from the first person point-of-view and include what you were doing, thinking and feeling.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

Opener up-level it
Make a list of all the openers in the article. Pick three that repeat and see if you can replace them with another word, or shuffle the order of the sentence to bring a new opener to the front.

Don’t forget to re-read the sentence to make sure it still makes sense, and that it actually sounds better.

Extra Reading in civics