PATROL HEROES: Lifesavers rescue 29 swimmers

Wye River volunteer lifeguards Elliot McGeary, left, and Jack Slykhuis helped keep beach visitors safe during summer. There were a total of 10 rescues at the beach between July 1, 2015, and April 10, 2016.

Wye River volunteer lifeguards Elliot McGeary, left, and Jack Slykhuis helped keep beach visitors safe during summer. There were a total of 10 rescues at the beach between July 1, 2015, and April 10, 2016.

COLAC and district lifesavers rescued more people from three beaches in the region this summer despite lower visitor numbers compared with the previous year.

Life Saving Victoria statistics indicated lifesavers rescued 29 people at three beaches in the region during Life Saving Victoria’s 2015-16 patrol season.

Lifesavers made eight rescues at Apollo Bay beach, 10 rescues at Wye River beach and 11 rescues at Lorne beach from July 1, 2015, to April 10, 2016.

Lifesavers patrolled on weekends at lifesaving clubs across Victoria from mid-November.

The season total was slightly higher than the 25 people lifesavers rescued from the three beaches during the 2014-2015 financial year.

Lifesavers rescued two people at Apollo Bay beach, 12 people at Lorne beach and three people at Wye River beach during that period.

Visitor numbers in the 2015-16 patrol season were 118,784 at Lorne, 34,273 at Apollo Bay and 13,021 at Wye River.

The figures were lower compared with the 140,909 at Lorne, 45,825 at Apollo Bay and 25,033 at Wye River during the 2014-2015 financial year.

Lorne Surf Life Saving Club captain Jeremy Walker said he felt his club and Apollo Bay and Wye River Surf Life Saving Club had fewer visitors to their beaches this summer due to the Otways bushfire.

The bushfire destroyed 116 homes at Wye River and Separation Creek and forced the evacuation of Lorne on Christmas Day.

“That period of Christmas and New Year numbers were down,” he said.

“It certainly picked up the later half of summer, but through that period there, obviously us and a few of the clubs around us, Apollo Bay and Wye, suffered a bit of a decline for sure.”

Mr Walker said having 11 rescues at Lorne this season was “a strong sign to show our members are diligent”.

He said volunteer numbers at the club were at an all-time high and he was “very proud of our members and the service they provide the community”.

“From the volunteers point of view it’s been a great summer, numbers at our club and attendances during the patrol have been at an all-time high,” he said.

“We have a great bunch of younger members coming through the club which is promising.

“We would like to thank the community for visiting Lorne throughout the summer and we look forward to another busy, successful season next year.”

Lifesaving patrols will resume on Victorian beaches from November.

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