A WOMAN who was rescued from the sea and saved from drowning as a child has warned people to treat the sea with respect.
Sharon Wadsley was minutes from death after she ran into the sea to get her beachball, which had fallen into the water.
Against her sister and a friend’s advice, she went in the water opposite Red Bank Road, Bispham, at high tide despite being unable to swim.
In a matter of seconds she had been swept out to sea and was struggling to stay afloat as the freezing temperatures and strong current threatened to overcome her.
Mrs Wadsley, of Bleasdale Street, Lytham, told The Gazette: “Before I knew it, I was being carried out to sea, and can only remember seeing my sister and friend get smaller and smaller.
“Every time I tried to shout for help, I went under.
“It has had a lasting affect on me because I remember thinking if I go under three times I’m done for.
“I don’t remember how many times I went under but I eventually saw a woman coming out to get me.
“The last thing I recall after that was lying on my front while she pumped the water from my lungs.”
The Gazette launched its Think Sea Safety campaign following the death of David Sagar, 17, of Lewtas Street, Blackpool, who died when he fell from the sea wall opposite Gynn Square on March 30,
Like some of the 22 people who have lost their lives in 27 years off Blackpool, Mrs Wadsley was a fearless, unsuspecting child and unaware of the dangers of the sea.
She now hopes her story will encourage others to stop taking risks at the seaside.
Mrs Wadsley added: “Every time I read stories like David’s it reminds me of how lucky I was and my message would be don’t go in the water if you have any doubts.
“Even experienced swimmers can get into trouble and drown, so if anything goes in the water, you have to leave it.
“There was no way I could have fought the current that day.
“Instinct kicked in and I started to move my arms and legs, but when you are 10 years old you aren’t very strong and I was so small the sea pulled me under straight away.”
The incident in 1976 has never left Mrs Wadsley.
She added: “When I went to secondary school swimming lessons which were compulsory, but when I got in the water I would freeze because of the memory.”
HM Coastguard is also handing out advice to those thinking of entering the water.
A spokesman said: “Swim on a lifeguarded beach, stay within your depth and swim parallel to the shore.
“If you get caught in a strong current or rip tide try to stay as calm as you can, raise your hand and shout for help.”