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.

 

PHOTO/CAPTION

Kean University sophomore criminal justice major Matthew Schwartz of Point Pleasant who assisted in the ocean rescue of a 10-year-old girl in Brick.
Kean University sophomore criminal justice major Matthew Schwartz of Point Pleasant who assisted in the ocean rescue of a 10-year-old girl in Brick.
 
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Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, with a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment serving nearly 15,000 students. The University's six undergraduate colleges offer 50 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic subjects. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers four doctorate degree programs and more than 60 options for graduate study leading to master's degrees, professional diplomas or certifications. With campuses in Union and Toms River, New Jersey, and Wenzhou, China, Kean University furthers its mission by providing an affordable, accessible and world-class education. Visit www.kean.edu.

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Press Contact: 

Millie Gonzalez

Office of University Relations

Kean University

908.737.0586

mgonzale@kean.edu