In a remarkable act of bravery, two Montreal teenagers, Emma Bassermann and Zoe Meklensek-Ireland, have been recognized for their heroic efforts in rescuing a couple from drowning in Barbados.
The incident occurred last week on a beach on the south side of the island, where the girls, both accomplished swimmers, were finishing up their boogie boarding session.
Emma, a competitive swimmer training with the Dorval swim club, and Zoe, trained by her father and national development coach for the Dorval swim club, sprang into action when they heard cries for help. Zoe, only 13 years old, first heard the distress call and quickly located Belinda Stone, a resident of London, England, struggling in the water.
With Emma's assistance, the girls managed to bring Belinda safely back to shore. However, the ordeal was far from over as Belinda's husband, Robert Stone, was still in distress, approximately 150 feet from the shore.
Despite Belinda's concerns for their safety, Emma and Zoe knew they were the only hope for Robert, as no lifeguards were on duty and few adults were present on the beach. Armed with Zoe’s boogie board, the girls embarked on a challenging rescue mission, battling strong undertows and diagonal waves.
Their training and knowledge of how to navigate strong currents proved invaluable. After a strenuous swim, they reached Robert, who was visibly struggling. Zoe helped him onto the boogie board and, guided by Emma, they swam parallel to the beach until they found a break in the waves.
Miraculously, the girls managed to bring Robert back to shore safely. Their quick thinking and calm demeanor under pressure were crucial in averting a potentially tragic situation. The girls' actions did not go unnoticed, as news of their heroism spread quickly across the island, leading to them receiving an award for bravery from the local youth democratic party president.
Reflecting on their actions, both Emma and Zoe expressed pride in their ability to help and relief that the Stones were safe. Their coach, Chuck Meklensek, praised their swimming skills and highlighted the importance of swim lessons for children.
Emma, aspiring to compete in the summer Olympics, and Zoe, currently focusing on basketball, both plan to pursue lifeguard certifications when eligible. Their remarkable rescue serves as an inspiration and a testament to the life-saving importance of swimming skills.
The girls returned to Montreal on January 10, rightfully celebrated as real-life heroes for their courageous and selfless actions.