Kean University Student Assists in Dramatic Ocean Rescue
Off-duty lifeguard Matthew Schwartz of Point Pleasant saves girl caught in riptide
UNION, N.J. –– Matthew Schwartz, a sophomore criminal justice major and lacrosse player at Kean, recently helped rescue a young girl who was caught in a riptide at Chadwick Beach, N.J. A certified lifeguard from Point Pleasant, Schwartz was on a training run with two other guys from his team when the trio had to put their training into practice––without any equipment and with no time to spare.
“We noticed someone waving from pretty far out in the water and, within a split second, faintly heard them say, ‘Help!’,” Schwartz said.
It immediately was clear that the waves had carried the 10-year-old girl out too far––roughly 50 meters––and she was struggling to stay afloat and could not swim back to shore. The turbulent waters and nearly five-foot waves didn’t deter the young men from their rescue mission.
Schwartz and one other lifeguard tossed off their sunglasses, jumped into the ocean and made their way to the girl who had gotten caught in an undertow. The third lifeguard stayed ashore to contact authorities, inform the other two of approaching waves, and assure the girl that help was on the way. Schwartz and his team finally brought her back to shore, despite battling the challenging current themselves. She was panicked and shaken, but otherwise unharmed.
“As a coach and parent of a soon-to-be 10-year-old girl, I could only imagine how her family must have felt when Matt and his fellow lifeguards saved their daughter,” said Shelley Sheiner, head men's lacrosse coach at Kean. “Matt is a really humble young man and I couldn't be prouder of him.”
Humble, indeed. Schwartz does not consider himself a hero. He said he was only doing what he has been trained to do––to help people in situations like these.
“It was all adrenaline. The only thing going through my mind was making sure that little girl was all right and getting her back to the beach,” he said. “If it happened again tomorrow, I would do it all again. I just look at the bigger picture and see that she’s safe, and that’s all that matters.”
In addition to lifeguarding and pursuing a criminal justice degree at Kean, Schwartz’s “bigger picture” includes plans to enroll in Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) and to serve his country in a career with the Air Force or Coast Guard.
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