It was a case of being in the right place at the right time for Luke Smith who saved a man's life at Lake Pegasus on Saturday.
The 14-year-old Waimairi Surf Life Saving Club rookie lifeguard had just finished board and tube rescue training about midday at the artificial lake when he saw a man, in his mid 40s, dive in after his two daughters who were swimming after their lilo, which had blown across the lake.
"As soon as he dived in I knew something bad was going to happen. It was a gut feeling. He got about 100m and started to slow down. He put his hand up and was splashing around. I grabbed a board and paddled out to him. He seemed a bit faint, out of breath and tired when I reached him," he said.
Luke managed to get the man to hold onto his board while he paddled back to shore.
"He got his breath back, didn't say much and you could tell he was a bit embarrassed. He didn't say thank you. The girls were fine. They made it to the other side of the lake. Their lilo had blown over a fence," he said.
The five-minute rescue, which was Luke's first, could have gone "either way".
And it should serve as a warning to others who are not confident in the water following last month's drowning of Tominiko Junior Pelenato, 16, 10 days before Christmas, he said.
Tominiko disappeared into the lake after swimming with friends.
His body was found a short time later.
"Anything could've happened. The man could've got secondary drowning by consuming water with a lack of oxygen. I was exhausted from training but as soon as I saw his hand go up, the adrenalin kicked in. That's what we are trained to do. I just had to do it," he said.
Luke said it was a great feeling saving someone's life.
"It was good timing. I am glad I was there when I was. I felt good afterwards and I was proud of my efforts. Training does pay off. If people get into trouble in the water, just stay calm and put up your hand. Surf lifesaving is a big part of my life and I'd recommend other people to get involved," he said.