Incoming international students at CSU Port Macquarie had a lesson on navigating the surf at local beaches in a session at Flynns Beach on February 21.
As part of their orientation, 13 students had the chance to learn from the professionals – Port Macquarie-Hastings head lifeguard, James Turnham, and chief training officer at Port Macquarie Surf Life Saving Club, Phil Hua, who also works on the CSU campus.
“The point of today’s lesson is to educate the new international students about the dangers of our local beaches, not to scare them, but to equip them with the skills to know how to have fun safely,” Mr Hua said.
“I went through the history of Surf Life Saving in Australia and the dangers at our beaches – both animals and the rips and currents.
“We also went through exactly what is a rip, why they can be dangerous and what to do if someone finds themselves caught in one.”
Mr Hua said it is important new students know the safe places to swim so they can have a great time at our beaches safely.
“The course also went through the specific dangers at each of the local patrolled beaches so students know where they can swim safely,” he said.
“The most important part of this course I hope the students remember is to only swim between the flags and not to go in the water alone or at night.”
Many of the students come from countries that either don’t have beaches, or the surf conditions are wildly different from those in Port Macquarie. Many had never seen waves before.
Head lifeguard James Turnham said it was important all new people to the area understand the dangers at our beaches.
“For all new people coming to town, but especially for those who come from overseas, our beaches are totally different from the majority of beaches around the world, and people expect them to be calm but all our beaches have dangers that must be watched,” Mr Turnham said.
“Sessions like this one is great to explain why people need to swim at patrolled beaches and between the flags. That is something the students may not have come across before.
“All our patrolled beaches have signage to show the potential dangers but being able to explain in person is also important.
“It is also an opportunity for us to tell the students why lifeguards and lifesavers are needed at our beaches, and why it is unsafe to swim at unpatrolled beaches or at parts of the beach where no-one else is.”
Mr Turnham also took the opportunity to show the students the path of a rip by dropping dye into the water.
“The dye test is a very obvious way to show the path of a rip and just how quickly the water can travel,” he said.
From Alphen in the Netherlands, Renee Klein said the opportunity to learn about local beaches was too good to pass up.
“I love the beach, but the beaches back home are nothing like this, so it was good to find out about the local environment and what to do if I get stuck in a rip,” Miss Klein said.
“Today I learnt that I should not panic if I get in to trouble and to only swim between the flags where lifeguards and lifesavers patrol the beach.”