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Wild swimmer who rescued man at Portknockie Harbour almost cancelled evening swim on night of emergency

Emma Williams, pictured left, with members of the Wild Dookers.
Emma Williams, pictured left, with members of the Wild Dookers.

A wild swimmer was in the right place at the right time to rescue the man who fell into a choppy sea off Portknockie Harbour.

Emma Williams had just finished up her evening swim with the Wild Dookers when she noticed a man run across the harbour in search of a life ring.

Realising someone must be in the water, she rushed to help and arrived as a small group was lowering a creel line into the water for the man to grab onto.

Ms Williams said the man, who she believes was in his 20s, “had nothing left in the tank” as they hauled him onto the harbour steps.

Her experience with the wild swimmers and the fact she is a safety officer at the RNLI Buckie lifeboat meant she knew what to do to help the man and reduce the risk of him deteriorating further.

‘It was meant to be’

Ms Williams fetched blankets from the safety kit she always keeps in her car, removed his wet clothes and helped him stand when he was ready to increase blood-flow around his body.

Explaining the circumstances that led to her helping in the rescue were “meant to be”, she said: “If the weather conditions are like that, I don’t normally plan a swim.

Members of the Wild Dookers.

“That day it was just marginally over what we usually go out in and I knew the harbour would be safe enough to go in at the top corner.

“For that to happen when it did, if it had happened when I was in the water, I wouldn’t have got there.”

Life rings ‘worth their weight in gold’

The group who rescued the man on Wednesday evening relied on a creel pot to pull him from the water because the two life rings on the north pier had been removed.

Following the swimmer rescue incident at Portknockie Harbour, Moray Council and HM Coastguard issued a stern warning to people not to interfere with life-saving equipment near the water.

Ms Williams said life rings are “worth their weight in gold if someone is in bother” and that missing equipment that night made her worried about future incidents occurring.

She credited everyone involved in the rescue, from a boy who ran to get a chocolate bar to the members of Wild Dookers who looked after her children so she could help, for the fact the man went home safe.

‘I keep seeing him in the water’

The 34-year-old highlighted the importance of not going out in or around the water alone, adding: “His friend is an absolute credit to him, if he had been standing on that wall by himself nobody would even have noticed that he had fallen into the water.

“We go as a group because I want to make it as safe as possible. There are precautions you can take to not put yourself at risk, it’s about people having the knowledge.”

Emma Williams with her daughters Paige and Mya.

She encouraged people to always have a safety kit with them including warm blankets, dry clothes, sugary sweets and a warm drink.

Though the man was unharmed by the incident, Ms Williams said she is still thinking about what could have happened.

“I was fine and calm,” she said.

“It wasn’t until I was home in my bed thinking about it, I keep seeing him in the water and thinking about how different it could have been.”

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