'SCREAMING': Near drowning sparks warning to young surfers
SURFERS on the Sunshine Coast have warned young beach goers to be aware of rough conditions after a spate of near misses in the water.
They say young surfers can be easily susceptible to peer pressure at the beach, putting them at serious risk in rough surf.
One young holiday-maker had a lucky escape after he was "minutes away from drowning", only to be saved by Johnathon Woods on Friday.
Mr Woods was surfing at Point Cartwright with his friend, Paul Jones, when he heard the young man screaming for help.
"He was just getting pounded against the rocks and chocking on water," Mr Woods said.
"This natural instinct to rescue him kicked in, so I paddled over."
The 13-year-old tourist had got into trouble while at the beach with three friends, panicking when he couldn't get back to shore.
"He was just freaking out. The worst thing you can do is panic," Mr Woods said.
"I just kept telling him 'calm down, you're alright, it's going to be ok'."
Mr Woods helped the boy on to his board while his friends called Mooloolaba lifeguards.
"Thirty seconds later, and he would have been under," he said.
Lifeguards on jetskis came and brought the pair back to shore. The boy was not injured, but Mr Woods said he was very shaken up.
The close call even took its toll on Mr Woods, an experienced surfer and surf school teacher.
"There was only a handful of surfers out there. If I hadn't got to him when I did, then it could have been a lot worse," he said.
"Imagine if we'd been surfing there and then turned the news on at night and some kid on holidays has drowned where we were surfing.
"You don't want that on your conscience."
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A Surf Life Saving Queensland spokesperson said everyone should check conditions before entering the water and ensure they had the experience necessary to handle the surf conditions.
Mr Woods and Mr Jones both said they had rescued several youngsters in trouble in the surf.
"Know your limitations. If the surf's too big and you're not a regular surfer, it's very unwise to go out into surf like that," Mr Woods said.
Mr Jones said parents should be aware of where their children were surfing and what conditions were like before letting them head out on their own.
Leading up to the Christmas holidays, Mr Jones said he wanted kids to not feel the pressure of being able to compete with their friends or other surfers.
"I see it all the time, kids getting into trouble," he said.
"It's a matter of time before we lose one of them if they're not careful.
"If you can't handle the biggest set in the worst situation, you shouldn't be out there."