Senior Face-to-face Fundraiser James Kelsall

James is an experienced surfer and a strong swimmer, but still no match for the sea. The alluring cool water on a hot summer’s day almost took his life, were it not for the RNLI lifeguard who came to his rescue.
Surfer and RNLI Senior Face-to-face Fundraiser James Kelsall explains why he respects the water

Photo: Nathan Williams

Surfer and RNLI Senior Face-to-face Fundraiser James Kelsall explains why he respects the water

‘On an incredibly hot and calm day in South Devon during July 2013, I went for a swim in my lunch break. 

‘The water was completely calm and there were no waves or currents. Being a surfer, a fairly strong swimmer and knowing the area well, I didn’t feel in any danger at all. I was just wearing board shorts and no wetsuit.

James in a wetsuit enjoying the water‘After being in the water for about 45 seconds, I swam down to the bottom. I was probably under the water for only 8-10 seconds, but on my way back up I blacked out. I came up to the surface and was unconscious in the water. 

Jack Ellis, the lifeguard on duty, noticed me, paddled over and safely got me on the back of his rescue board; holding me there until I regained consciousness.

‘I remember coming back up towards the surface and feeling no panic at all. The next thing I knew I was on the back of the rescue board, feeling very confused.’

If Jack hadn’t been so close, it could have easily gone another way – it really emphasises the importance of having lifeguards around when you’re in the water. And that’s why I #RespectTheWater.

Share James's story

Spread the word about our Respect the Water drowning prevention campaign and help keep others safe in and around the water.

#RespectTheWater

Together we can save more lives.