The look on one’s face when they are about to drown is far from a pleasant sight. That was exactly what Libbie Tautari had to stare at as she struggled to save two male friends from drowning in a swimming spot near Pelorus Bridge in New Zealand.

The incident first occurred on Saturday when Nathan Devaraj, her friend, got into trouble while in the water. When her other friend, Craig Mackle, went over to give a helping hand, Nathan panicked even further. While they were in the water, Libbie was on shore with her four children and another 20-year-old. When she looked up and realised that the pair was struggling in the water, she swam out to aid them. However, she found herself caught in a desperate fight for survival herself.

Nathan, out of panic, grabbed her arm and pulled her down around four times. “Every time we bobbed up I could see my kids on the rocks just looking at us,” she recalled. After struggling for two minutes, she managed to break free from Nathan’s grip to help Craig and did her best to pull him towards the rocks. Unfortunately, she was not able to help Nathan and the express on his face said it all.

“That look . . . was really intense. I thought, ‘oh my God, I’m going to have to let you drown’, because we couldn’t do anything. I was looking into the eyes of a dead man and I think Nathan realised that too and there’s nothing we could have done,” she recounted. Although she wasn’t a religious person by nature, she still asked for God’s help to keep all three of them afloat. Eventually, both Libbie and Craig managed to get to the rocks safely. At some point, Craig was able to hook his arm under Nathan while using his other arm to swim. However, they would only reach a certain distance before being pulled under again. “I remember just pushing and pushing at his back, and Libbie must have been up the front,” said Craig.

The friends headed over to a little-known swimming spot about 2 kilometres off Pelorus Bridge towards Nelson. Nathan was not a strong swimmer and was a little worried about the depth of the water. “It was good and then suddenly everything just goes numb and I can’t breathe,” he explained. According to him, after he went down the first time, he couldn’t remember everything else that happened after. For the full story, check it out here.

Happy Fish Swim School would like to remind all that even the best swimmers shouldn’t take their chances in the open waters. Never take a swim when there is little or noone else around even if you are a relatively good swimmer. The open waters are unpredictable and you never know what could happen. Regardless, always arm yourself with swimming skills as it could come in handy. For swimming lessons in Singapore, refer to our website.