A WORCESTER-based drowning prevention charity honoured an holiday hero who risked his life in an attempt to recuse two brothers who had got into difficulties swimming in Ullswater in the Lake District.
Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) chiefs welcomed Yanek Kowal to their base on London Road on Thursday (September 5) to honour the 65-year-old for his bravery last month in the picturesque holiday venue.
Mr Kowal into Lake Ullswater on August 1 in a bid to save brothers Bryxzel and Ayxzel Galeon, who got into difficulties trying to reach a pontoon.
While the 65-year-old managed to save 18-year-old Ayxzel, he was was unable to save Bryxzel, who had already dropped belowe the water’s surface.
Yanek is a fully trained lifeguard through RLSS UK and a current member of RLSS UK’s Hereford and Worcester branch and was on holiday with his wife Sally when the tragedy unfolded.
“When you’ve trained for this kind of emergency, your instinct is to dive straight in to help but in truth, the first action of any lifesaver is to be aware of their own limitations. I may be still 16 in my head but I’m 65 now,” he said.
“I don’t like to think of myself as a hero, a life was still lost that day and I will always wonder whether I could’ve done more to help, however I know I did my best in an impossible situation.
“My message to anyone out and about on the water is simple: take precautions and know your limits. Cold water shock is silent, deadly and invisible, catching out even the strongest of open water swimmers.
“Know what to do in an emergency and look out for each other,” he added.
RLSS UK chief Robert Gofton welcomed Mr Kowal to the charity at Red Hill House and presented the former lifeguard with a certificate to mark his courageous actions.
“It is a vital part of our work that everyday heroes like Yanek, are celebrated for their selfless, lifesaving actions,” he said
“Lifesaving and lifeguarding skills might go unused and are regularly taken for granted by the wider public, nevertheless, they are at the forefront of our work to reduce drownings across the UK and Ireland.
“It was an honour to meet Yanek and Sally and I was humbled by Yanek’s modesty in the face of his actions.
“He is a shining example of robust training and skills, coupled with the confidence to use them in an emergency situation and whilst the loss of any life to the water is tragic, without Yanek’s courage and confidence, the outcome on that terrible day could have very easily meant more lives lost to the water,” Mr Gofton added.
Visit www.rlss.org.uk for more.