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Montreal teens save couple from drowning in Barbados

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

The woman, Belinda Stone from the South London, England, told the Montreal teenagers her husband, Robert, was too far out in the ocean and struggling to return to shore.

"I can swim but I wasn't able to actually achieve anything. I wasn't going anywhere," Robert told CTV News.

The girls immediately brought her in but quickly realized they didn't have enough time to go find help to get her spouse.

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

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

The dramatic scene played out at the Barbados Beach Club in Christ Church, on the southern tip of the Caribbean island. The young girls say they were at the right place at the right time and both of them being 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 touched the sand," Bassermann said. "He was saying thank you and how he wasn't able to breathe and how the current was very strong."

The young girls 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 a lot more disastrous," said Bassermann, who trains about 21 hours per week in Montreal.

Once on the beach, they were both showered in praise.

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

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

Even though her swimming skills were put to the ultimate test this week, Bassermann said she has a lot more training ahead of her as she sets her eyes on the Olympics in 2028 and beyond.

A local politician awarded them with a gift of appreciation and the Stones say the girls saved their lives.

"I really feel that we've got a good guardian angel looking over us," said Belinda.

"Maybe a Canadian one," her husband added. 

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