A Christmas Eve as a life-saving hero in 2018 made Melbourne Storm star and former Nipper Harry Grant all too aware of the dangers people will face flocking to the waters this summer.
Grant was walking with his parents on unguarded Oxley Beach in Port Macquarie, NSW, when they spotted two women struggling in the surf and he “did what anyone would do” and jumped in to take them to safety.
After spending his teenage years patrolling the beaches of Yeppoon, all of Grant’s instincts came into play.
“I was just going to the beach with my mum and dad in the morning and then I heard someone having a little argument, I didn’t really know what it was,” Grant recalled.
“A mother and her daughter were dragged out to sea in a rip and either would have done the same and instincts took over and we helped them in something very special to see how grateful they were.
“I love the beach and I always grew up on the beach and did long tongs in elementary school and then it kind of went on to the lifesaving and the patrol side of things.
“I had this experience and learned these things, in early days, you’re kind of confident in the water and you can carry it in a situation like that.”
Grant has teamed up with Joel Selwood, Geelong Premiership captain and AFL legend, who happened to join Storm as a leadership advisor, as ambassadors for a Surf Life Saving Australia campaign aimed at reducing drowning deaths this summer .
Deaths from coastal drowning are 3 to 4 times more likely to occur on summer holidays, and men are nine times more likely to drown than women.
Selwood is also a former pool lifeguard and along with Grant will brush up on her ocean skills with Nutri-Grain Ironwomen Georgia Miller and Harriet Brow, helping to send a clear message to Australian families that the ocean can be unpredictable and dangerous.
“The group I grew up with. everyone is really passionate about it and we understand that. To say that not everyone has these luxuries that we had when we were kids,” Grant said.
“As long as we can create a bit of awareness and a bit of understanding of how unpredictable the beach can be at times, hopefully we can save some lives along the way.
Surf Life Saving Australia volunteers complete over 11,000 rescues and more than 1.3 million patrol hours each year. But half of coastal drowning deaths occur more than three miles from emergency services, underscoring the importance of swimming on a patrolled beach.
Originally published as Football Stars, Harry Grant and Joel Selwood spearhead life-saving awareness