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Cecil Healy, the lifesaver

Cecil Healy, not only, is satisfied on his sports performance but will be equally devoted to an association service of Sydney rescuers. When Cecil Healy joined the Manly Surf Club in November 1907, it has only existed since August of the same year. This association, created among others, by Frank Donovan, has a target to settle the necessary conditions in order to preserve life of Manly Beach bathers. Manly Beach is, in fact, one of the most popular beaches of the city of Sydney. The strategy both consists in settling means of prevention (information to the public, installation of water... lines) and in assisting swimmers in distress (the lifeguard equipment), implementation of the actions of first aid.... Cecil Healy, like other recruits, will therefore contribute to the establishment and evolution of the Manly Surf Club. Thus, they will perform numerous demonstrations of first aid as February 5th, 1908 or pass on their experience to other new clubs. Indeed, swimming are allowed since 1903, this activity and surfing democratized themselves on Sydney's beaches and relief to bathers multiply. Associations are formed and dissolve themsselves in anarchic way. The Manly Surf Club will therefore take advantage of Cecil Healy 's leadership and the municipality assistance to impose itself as one of the most influential clubs in Sydney. It is, therefore, quite naturally that Cecil Healy becomes captain of the association and invests himself substantially to make the club progress. Apart the long monitoring days spent on the beach, Cecil Healy is especially remarked this Sunday, on January 29th, 1911 around 5:30 pm. That day, the beach is crowded and nautical currents are important. Also, four adults and a child are carried away beyond the lines of bathing and call for help. Healy, who is then in water with other rescuers, rushes to their rescue. He goes toward two bathers, the most in difficult position P.A. Hamdan, 26, and W.B. Brady, 13 years old. Mr Reynolds, an experienced rescuer, then tries to bring them a rope so as to tow them. Managing with success, he passes the line to Healy and supports the young Brady. However, the crowd, gathering on the beach pulls too hard on the rope and it breaks. Cecil Healy found himself again alone with Hannely who is unable to swim and visibly in a great state of tiredness. Healy then,should maintain Hannely's body off the water. Incredible as it may seem, a new lifeguard attempts to bring a line to Healy but the crowd,once again pulls on it and the rescuer loses the rope, even before reaching the level of Healy. It's only 20 minutes after that Mr Mc Kelvey eventually succeeds in providing a rope to the swimming champion. Rescuers finally achieve to tow the two shipwrecked people. Cecil Healy returns back to the beach, exhausted but safe and sound. The boy, who has lost consciousness, is rescued after long minutes of resuscitation thanks to Dr. Bennetts. This Act of bravery entitles him to receive a distinction from the Royal Humane Society, on June 14th, 1911. He thus received the silver medal and a certificate of merit for gallantry. As to Mr Reynolds, he receives a bronze medal. on September 1911, the municipality of Manly would wish to put order in the various clubs in present lifeguards on the beach. They consider that associations contain too many surfers and not enough real lifeguards. This regulation, that aims to gather together the rescuers in a same club, settles itself in stormy way and Cecil Healy, despite his necessary qualifications to join Manly Surf Living Club, doesn't wish to take part in these changes. Manly rescuers will therefore join the Manly Life Saving Club and surfers will continue to belong to the private club Manly Surf Club.

By Bertrand FARENEAU,
D├ęc.2013

cr├ędit photo:

- Le Manly Surf Club (Sydney) : surfresearch.com.au

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Sommaire du dossier Cecil Healy...

Cecil Healy Before WWI

Preface by David WILSON

Who was really Cecil Healy ?

Cecil Healy and the Crawl Stroke

Cecil Healy at the Olympic Games

Cecil Healy, the lifesaver

Cecil Healy, the brave

Cecil Healy as a soldier

From the pool to the battlefield

Healy came in France

The school officer

The False Death

The Drama

♦ Cecil HEALY map ♦