Teenage Byron Bay Surf Club lifesaver Caitlin Smith has been singled out for special praise for her efforts during the recent Beach Hotel Ocean Swim Classic.
The praise came from Tasmanian swimmer Bridget Goodwin, an asthmatic, who struggled to complete the last 500 metres of the swim.
Ms Goodwin said Caitlin, who was paddling a surf ski, stayed with her and encouraged her to complete the course.
In an email to swim organisers, she said the encouragement inspired her to keep going.
“I am an asthmatic and while I can be very slow I am determined to do the swim each year for my health and the challenge has become very important to me,” Ms Goodwin said.
“I would like to pass on a special thank-you to the surf club volunteers on surf skis as I was very slow at the end and I think came in last.
“There was a young girl about 15 on a surf ski who stayed with me and was terrific, inspiring me to go on for about the last 300-500 metres.
“I would like to give her a gift voucher to stay at my hotel in Burnie, Tasmania, so she and her family may have a Tasmanian holiday as my guest, such is the gratitude I owe her for her generosity of spirit.
“Such kindness is rare these days and especially good to see in the young.”
Ms Goodwin said the swim was especially important to her as her grandfather, Walter Goodwin, came to Byron Bay on the Wollongbar (The Wreck) in 1910 and her late father Harold Goodwin (a Rat of Tobruk) was a keen surfer and a member of the Byron Bay Lifesaving Club in the 1930s and who joined the army to travel to the Middle East with other members of the Byron Bay Surf Club.
She said she had spent many happy summers of her childhood learning to surf and fish at Wategos Beach.
“It’s lovely for me to come back each year and swim and remembering these colourful family connections,” she said.
A spokesman for the Winter Whales, which organises the swim classic, praised the efforts of Caitlin and all the other people involved in water safety during the swim.
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