Two people on their first date almost drowned at Dreamtme Beach at Fingal last week before lifeguards managed to rescue them from the surf.
Two people on their first date almost drowned at Dreamtme Beach at Fingal last week before lifeguards managed to rescue them from the surf.

Teens’ first date ends in near drowning

WHAT started as a romantic dip in the ocean on a teenage couple's first date turned into a nightmare when the pair were caught in a rip and almost drowned.

Returning to Fingal Head to thank surf lifesavers, the Queensland pair urged others to be vigilant and always swim between the flags.

Liam Towner, 19, and Emily McClymont, 18, had decided to drive from Ormeau to Dreamtime Beach for their first date on January 18.

They had not long been in the water when they were caught in rip, in the same notorious area three people have lost their lives in the past three years.

Two people on their first date almost drowned at Dreamtime Beach at Fingal last week before lifeguards managed to rescue them from the surf.
Two people on their first date almost drowned at Dreamtime Beach at Fingal last week before lifeguards managed to rescue them from the surf.

"We were probably about thigh-deep, sitting around the rocks, when one big wave came, but we were fine," Liam said.

"Straight after that another wave came and hit us ... We were probably then chest-deep and it dragged us out so quick.

"As soon as I knew we got dragged out, I said to Em that no matter what happens make sure you stay afloat.

"I couldn't do much to get to the rocks - I was struggling to push (Emily) to the rocks ... I got pushed out 10m further than she did."

Liam Towner, 19, and Emily McClymont, 18, had decided to drive from Ormeau to Dreamtime Beach for their first date on January 18.
Liam Towner, 19, and Emily McClymont, 18, had decided to drive from Ormeau to Dreamtime Beach for their first date on January 18.

While Emily managed to cling to the rocks before getting pushed back to shore by another wave, Liam was sent in the opposite direction, getting dragged underneath the water by the strong current, which pushed him around the headland to Fingal Head Beach.

"I didn't even know what was happening, I thought that is just what happens at the beach, but as soon as Liam started panicking, I started panicking," Emily said.

Liam was caught in the rip for 15-20 minutes, and said he felt like he was fighting for his life.

"When I was around that cliff edge, I was being thrown around the rocks and dunked underneath," he said.

"The waves were so big, I couldn't stay up ... I was so close to passing out every single time."

Eventually Liam was pushed out of the rip and the current brought him closer to shore, where he was rescued by lifeguards on duty at Fingal Head Beach.

Liam urged people to swim between the red and yellow flags, he said he had seen first-hand how the conditions could change so rapidly.

"Everyone says to swim parallel but I couldn't even swim. I couldn't get above water because I was getting smacked so much," he said.

"I honestly thought (Emily) was dead ... There were so many emotions - losing my family, dying, what my family would feel like after I had passed and everything that I would affect when I go ... and Emily passing away because of me.

"I'll be swimming between the flags now, that's for sure."

Tweed lifeguard supervisor Brent Lethbridge said swimming between the flags was a must.

"The danger in large and powerful surf is you could be knee-deep at one moment, then a large swell will come through and then you're chest-deep, " he said.

"That water has to go somewhere, so it pulls off from the beach."

He encouraged anyone concerned about swimming conditions, especially at an unfamiliar beach, to speak to a lifeguard on duty.

Both teenagers said they were thankful for those who assisted in the rescue, including a woman named Karen who helped reassure Liam everything was going to be okay.



GALLERY: Rain can't stop riders at Rocky Rumble

GALLERY: Rain can't stop riders at Rocky Rumble

Dozens of riders captured in hotly contested races

Police reveal details of Rocky pub capsicum-spray struggle

Police reveal details of Rocky pub capsicum-spray struggle

Drug squad's discovery after man seen 'acting suspiciously' at pub

WATCH: City's 'premier event' transforming Rocky showgrounds

WATCH: City's 'premier event' transforming Rocky showgrounds

Site buzzing with the sound of cranes and trucks for Beef Australia

Local Partners