HEROIC duo Ben Roberts and Cam Lamperd have been recognised for their bravery after rescuing two families at Thirteenth Beach.
The everyday life savers were awarded for their combination of rescues which took place over a 24-hour period back in January.
Life Saving Victoria and the Play It Safe By The Water committee hosted a celebration for the Barwon Heads locals in a bid to recognise everyday people using their water safety knowledge to perform rescues.
Mr Roberts made headlines earlier this year after he rescued two separate families from the same location, just one day apart.
Remembering the details vividly, Mr Roberts recalled parking at his usual spot and being excited to see a decent swell and a seemingly empty beach.
His excitement was soon turned into quick-thinking action after being alerted to a family in danger.
“By the time we were entering the water they would have been nearly 150 metres out to sea,” Mr Roberts said.
“It was one of those spur of the moment decisions to do what I can and race in.
“We were able to bring in the daughter and the son, as well as one of the guys who went into swim after them.”
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and local life savers joined the search for the missing father who was eventually pulled from the water but unable to be revived.
Just 24 hours later, Mr Roberts found himself performing another crucial rescue with his friend and fellow surfer Cam Lamperd under almost identical circumstances.
Mr Lamperd had been dealing with his own guilt as a trained life saver who had been at the beach just 30 minutes prior to the previous incident.
“I felt like I should have been there,” he said.
The pair decided to go on a welfare surf to clear their minds before being confronted by another family caught in a rip.
“It is comforting to instantly know what to do in these situations,” he said.
“I call upon more surfers to embark on training.
“We are on beaches all year round and can play a significant role in keeping people safe.”
The pair was able to save all those involved, however, it was almost disastrous for one swimmer who had lost significant colour from struggling underwater.
Life Saving Victoria (LSV) general manager and PISBTW Committee chairman, Paul Shannon, said it was extremely lucky the surfers had been in the right place at the right time.
“Without Ben and Cam’s bravery and response, this year’s already record high drowning toll would be even higher,” Mr Shannon said.
“With their knowledge of conditions, local breaks and surfboards that were able to be used as flotation devices to assist the swimmers, Ben and Cam were able to save three lives.
“We hate to think what could have happened if they hadn’t been there.”
Over the current financial year, Victoria has recorded the highest number of drowning incidents on record with 48 lives lost.
Mr Shannon said behind most fatal drownings there are up to four non-fatal incidents.
“If you see someone in trouble and you don’t have surf skills or a device that can be used to assist in a rescue, phone 000 immediately and alert local life savers if they are present,” he said.
“The last thing we want is to see someone who’s trying to help get themselves into trouble, or worse.”