PEI

'I truly thought I was done for': Teen saves woman in rip current at Blooming Point

It was a beautiful day for Wendy MacIntyre's one swim of the year. On Aug. 2, the 42-year-old Islander was taking a dip with her nephews in just above waist-high water at Blooming Point Beach, P.E.I., when in seconds, she found herself swept out into deeper water.

A 42 year-old woman was rescued at Blooming Point Beach Aug. 2

Wendy MacIntyre hugs Carmen Seaman, the 15-year-old who she credits with saving her life. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

It was a beautiful day for Wendy MacIntyre's one swim of the year.  On Aug. 2, the 42-year-old Islander was taking a dip with her nephews in just above waist-high water at Blooming Point Beach, P.E.I., when in seconds, she found herself swept out into deeper water.

"I tried to swim in," MacIntyre told CBC.  

"I wasn't getting any traction.... And then I started to panic."

MacIntyre was unable to get to shore on her own. She told CBC she's not a great swimmer, and chalked up her struggle to her lack of experience.

By the time she called for help she said she was swallowing water and waves were going over her head. 

'Really terrifying'

"I didn't think I was that poor of a swimmer," said MacIntyre.

"But when I realized that I was taking in water and I wasn't in control, yeah, it was really terrifying."

Wendy MacIntyre usually swims once a year, at a beach where rip currents are rare. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

MacIntyre had never before experienced a rip current, but knew about the phenomenon. 

"What surprised me was I couldn't feel a thing," said MacIntyre, describing the whole ordeal as surprising. She said she didn't feel a pull, but within 15 seconds, had been swept far from shore. 

That's when 15-year-old Carmen Seaman — who was swimming nearby with a flutter board — swam over. She noticed a wave crash over MacIntyre's head and thought she might need help. 

"She asked for my help. So I gave her my flutter board and I tried to stay there as long as I could to help her," said Seaman.  

A group effort

With the help of the flutter board and MacIntyre's brother-in-law Ben Garro — who swam to join her in the water — MacIntyre was able to swim to shore.

Garro, who grew up in Australia, said he had experience with rip currents, but was still shocked at how fast it all happened. 

Seaman says her mother had warned her to be aware of rip currents before she got in the water. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

"Everyone thinks they have a lot of time to figure this stuff out," said Garro. 

"But realistically once a person becomes exhausted it's only going to take a couple of minutes and they'll be underwater."

Meanwhile, the teen who had given MacIntyre her flutter board had to swim in herself. 

"When I started getting tired ... it kind of got scary because I wasn't really close to shore," said Seaman. 

Ben Garro, Wendy MacIntyre's brother-in-law, says the rescue was a group effort. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

She got to shore safely with the aid of another beach goer, but was exhausted by the swim. 

Garro told CBC the rescue was a group effort. Many people on the beach that day, he said, jumped to help coach people to safety. 

In a Facebook post after the incident, MacIntyre wrote, "I've never been so scared or near death in my life."

MacIntyre is "incredibly grateful" to Seaman for her help. She said she was overcome by emotion as she got out of the water, and was unable to properly thank the teen at the time.

Later, she was able to connect with the stranger and her family on social media, to tell Seaman she credits the teen with saving her life. 

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