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Wallan eight-year-old saves his friend from drowning

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Max Davies
Max Davies
Max is a journalist for the North Central Review. He joined the paper as a cadet journalist in 2021 and graduated from La Trobe University in 2023. He takes a keen interest in motorsport and the automotive industry.

By Max Davies

A WALLAN child has saved his friend from drowning in a house pool using valuable skills learned at his swimming lessons.

Eight-year-old Jax Murphy and his seven-year-old friend were playing outside when they lost their ball over his house’s pool fence.

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While Jax attempted to retrieve it using a pool net, his friend went to the opposite end of the pool but fell in and immediately began to struggle.

When Jax attempted to help, he was pulled in as well.

Within the space of 30 seconds, Jax was able to react quickly and help his friend towards the pool steps and to safety, despite being constantly pushed underwater.

Mum Kellie said Jax did not realise the severity of the situation until he was shown the video from a CCTV camera overlooking the pool.

“His actual words to me were ‘he’s my mate, and I helped him. I’m not going to let my mate drown’. He didn’t have time to think about what could be – all he saw was his friend in trouble, and his natural instinct was to save him,” she said.

“I thought the incident was far less serious than it was, as both boys came inside quite nonchalant … When I [saw the CCTV], I couldn’t breathe – it was extremely difficult to watch, and I immediately saw that this could very easily have been a double tragedy.”

Jax has been enrolled in swimming lessons at Mernda Kingswim for about six years, with his other two siblings also taking part in lessons from a young age.

Kellie said while it was important to learn swimming techniques and strokes, it was equally important for children to learn water survival skills.

“I know that because of the years of lessons Jax has had, it helped him to remain calm, and to use the net as a device to assist him retrieve the ball,” she said.

“I don’t consider swimming lessons a choice – they are compulsory for my kids, and I don’t include it in their ‘choice of extracurricular sport’.

“Swimming lessons should never be seen as an extravagant extracurricular sport – every single parent should consider them compulsory.”

Royal Life Saving Australia’s National Drowning Report for 2023 revealed that 281 people had drowned in Australian waterways from July 2022 to June 2023.

The figure is a 17 per cent decrease from 2021/2022 but is still a slight increase on the 10-year average.

Of the 281, seven drowning deaths were people between the ages of five and 14 – a 35 per cent decrease on the 10-year average.

Mernda Kingswim centre manager Justin White said Australians were fortunate to live close to pools and beaches, which was why it was important to know how to be safe around water.

“The skills young children learn are skills for life and can also give parents some peace of mind when away on holidays or in a backyard pool,” he said.

“Jax’s story shows no matter how old you are, knowing how to react in emergency situations can save a life.”

Mr White said water safety was one of the school’s ‘number one priorities’, and Kingswim catered to children of all ages and abilities from beginners to squad-level.

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