Teen girls, 13 and 14, save couple from riptide in Barbados

Emma Bassermann and Zoe Ireland-Meklensek
YouTube/CBC News

On Jan. 3, a London couple vacationing in Barbados found themselves caught in a riptide and experienced a moment of true panic. They realized they weren’t strong enough swimmers to return to the shore. Luckily, two girls from Montreal — Emma Bassermann, 14, and Zoe Ireland-Meklensek, 13 — happened to be boogie boarding nearby.

You might think that a couple of young teens would be unlikely heroes in this situation, but these weren’t just any girls. Both have swam competitively and were on the island so Emma could participate in a swim training program. (Zoe’s father, Chuck Meklensek, is Emma’s swim coach.)

MORE: 11-year-old hailed a hero after saving 2 people on same day

When the struggling couple, Belinda and Robert Stone, realized their perilous situation, they began to call for help. But there was no lifeguard in sight, and Belinda began to fear the worst.

“Thank heavens I left our wills on the dining room table,” she recalled thinking, describing her reaction to The Washington Post. Then, Zoe approached her on her boogie board, and Belinda worried that she’d just put this small-sized girl in danger.

“The mother in me kicks in,” Belinda told the paper, but Zoe just pulled Belinda onto her boogie board.

“She said her husband was further out, and he was struggling to swim,” Zoe told the paper. “I told her to hold on tight, and I strapped the boogie board tether to my wrist. Emma was by my side for support.”

Zoe then swam to Robert and put him on her boogie board. She attached the board’s strap to her ankle and swam to shore, towing him behind her.

“We weren’t really thinking much except to get them to safety as fast as we could but I will say, well, I was pretty scared and worried about their safety and our own,” Zoe told the paper.

“Zoe and Emma saved our lives,” Brenda told CBC News in Canada. “There’s no two ways about it.”

Watch the CBC News clip detailing the dramatic rescue here:


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About the Author
Jennifer Graham Kizer
Jennifer Graham Kizer has written features and essays for over a dozen magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Health, Parents, Parenting, Redbook and TV Guide.

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