Star UK golfer in near-drowning drama on KZN south coast
UK golf star Charlotte Austwick is recovering in a KwaZulu-Natal hospital after she and two others nearly drowned during a night swim on the south coast on Monday.
Austwick is in the country for the SA Sunshine Ladies Tour at the San Lameer Country Club.
27-year-old Austwick, a fellow golfer from Norway and a SA caddy, got into difficulty after they were swept offshore by a rip tide off Marina Beach, close to the country club.
The trio survived their ordeal thanks to diners and the manager of the nearby Mariners Seafood Restaurant, who heard their pleas for help.
"It was a traumatic event. We are just glad that a tragedy was averted," said Bruce Simpson, Mariners’ manager.
John Nicholas, the station commander of the National Sea Rescue Institute in Port Edward, said his crew on duty at the time had received reports from a trainee crew member that three people were in trouble in the surf at Marina Beach.
Simpson, who was on the scene, told TimesLIVE that rescue buoys and a surfboard were used to bring the struggling swimmers to safety.
"It was the first time in my eight years here, that we’ve had such an incident," said Simpson.
The rescue was conducted by locals together with NSRI rescue swimmers.
"A female from Switzerland, who was part of their party, was on the beach and not in the surf," Nicholas said.
He said Austwick and her two friends were taken to hospital by ambulance "as a precaution for observation for non-fatal drowning symptoms".
Austwick tweeted on Thursday that she was "frustratingly back in hospital because I was getting quite breathless so I’m being kept in and treated via IV line for pneumonitis (inflammation in my lungs) due to the salt water I took into them. Doc said I should be feeling better tomorrow (Friday) and will let me leave."