Three cadet surf lifesavers put their training into practice for the first time to save a young boy from the surf at Coledale on Sunday afternoon.
Sixteen-year-old Aaron Dark and mates Riley Carney and Alex Smith, both 15, rescued the 10-year-old boy who got caught in a rip off Sharkeys Beach about 3.30pm.
The young surf lifesavers were carrying out a "roving patrol" at the unpatrolled beach when they saw people on the beach waving wildly to them to alert their attention to the unfolding drama in the water.
"We saw everyone waving and pointing out to the surf and so we just grabbed the board off the roof of the all-terrain vehicle and Aaron and Alex jumped into the water," Riley said.
"I couldn't get into radio contact with the lifeguards at Coledale Beach so I drove the buggy back there to get back-up."
An inflatable rescue boat - with Riley's dad, Craig Walker, aboard - responded in minutes, but the boys had already brought the boy safely back to shore.
"It felt amazing that we had been able to save someone," Riley said.
"Alex and I both have our surf rescue and first aid certificates, and Aaron has his bronze medallion, and we're just so glad we've been able to put our training to good use.
"We do patrols once a fortnight, but we're also always in the surf on our own and so felt it was important to have the skills to judge the surf and to be able to save ourselves, our friends or anyone in trouble if necessary."
Mr Walker said he was extremely proud of his son, who attends Bulli High School, and his friends, both Edmund Rice College students.
"I joined the surf club with Riley when he was five and the skills he's gained over the last 10 years really paid off yesterday," he said.
"The boys were incredible - they've done a lot of training exercises, but they've never taken part in a rescue before."
Coledale Surf Life Saving Club patrol captain Anthony O'Donoghue was quickly on the scene on Sunday afternoon and said the boys had acted promptly and professionally.
"I checked that the 10-year-old boy was OK and chatted to his parents - the mother was so grateful that the boys had taken such decisive action," he said.
Coledale SLSC captain Daren Weidner said it was a timely reminder for beachgoers to put safety first.
"If people are going to risk swimming at an unpatrolled beach then they should always make sure they study the surf - if they are not water-familiar they need to know that it can be fatal," he said.
"Thanks to the quick response of these young surf lifesavers, and the fact that they kept a level head, this dangerous situation ended in a good result."