Montreal teens save couple from drowning in Barbados

Emma Bassermann and Zoe Meklensek-Ireland were about to ride their last wave while boogie boarding off the coast of Barbados on Wednesday when they heard a woman in the water calling for help.

The woman, Belinda Stone, from south London, England, told the Montreal teens that her husband, Robert, was too far out in the ocean and was struggling to get back to shore.

“I can swim, but I couldn’t really accomplish anything. I wasn’t going anywhere,” Robert told CTV News.

The girls brought her in immediately, but quickly realized that they did not have enough time to seek help in searching for their spouse.

“We didn’t know how much time we had left. So we immediately went back out and put her husband on the boogie board and I tied the leash of the boogie board to my ankle and pulled him back to shore, swimming parallel to the shore until the current was not so strong, then we went back in [to the shoreline] until he could touch the sand,” Meklensek-Ireland, 13, said in an interview with CTV News on Friday.

Bassermann, 14, is a competitive swimmer for Dorval Swim Club and is in Barbados on a 10-day training camp for the Olympic trials. Meklensek-Ireland was there because his father, Chuck Meklensek, is the club’s national development coach.

The dramatic scene took place at the Barbados Beach Club in Christ Church, at the southern tip of the Caribbean island. The young women say they were in the right place at the right time and that they were both good swimmers helped save the couple’s lives.

“He was having a hard time breathing, so the first words we heard out of his mouth were when he hit the sand,” Bassermann said. “He was saying thank you and that he couldn’t breathe and that the current was very strong.”

The young women are being hailed as heroes for rescuing the couple.

They say their instincts simply kicked in and they knew that swimming parallel to the shore in a strong current was the best way to save the man.

“If we had been weaker swimmers, it could have been much more disastrous,” said Bassermann, who trains about 21 hours a week in Montreal.

Once on the beach, both were showered with praise.

“They were talking about how terrified they were and how the wife was thinking about her will,” Meklensek-Ireland recalled. “They said it would have been very different if we weren’t in that place and at that time, so they were very grateful for us.”


The couple was also interviewed by local news outlet Barbados Today. Several messages of gratitude were shared in the comments of a YouTube interview about his heroic story.

Although his swimming skills were put to the test this week, Bassermann said he has a lot more training ahead of him as he sets his sights on the 2028 Olympics and beyond.

A local politician gave them a thank-you gift, and the Stones say the girls saved their lives.

“I really feel like we have a good guardian angel watching over us,” Belinda said.

“Maybe a Canadian one,” her husband added.

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