ANNA Black has spent most of her young life learning how to save lives in the water.
The Sarina Beach Lifesaving Club youngster from Grasstree Beach never expected she'd have to put years of Nippers training into practice.
But, while the 15-year-old was enjoying a birthday walk along Grasstree Beach with her mum Sally, she spotted a canoe capsize several kilometres offshore.
Dashing to her mum's car to retrieve a phone to call for help, Anna returned to find the man in serious trouble --- flailing about in the surf, struggling to stay afloat.
Her instincts kicked in and Anna was away, bolting into the surf without a second thought for her own safety, while her mum stood on the beach, worried.
"I was like 'Mum, I'm going to have to go save him' and she was like 'Anna, just remember if you swim out try and stay away so he doesn't pull you under'," Anna explained.
"Mum was really concerned when I jumped in. I swam about 2km out into the water, he'd been about 3km out, and he'd already swam about a kilometre to me, and we eventually met up and swam back in."
Anna kept a close eye on the man, about in his early 20s, urging him on as he struggled back to shore, ready to help should his head go under.
"And then he almost face-planted when we got back on the beach, because he was so exhausted," Anna continued.
"We sat him up and waited for the ambulance to arrive."
The man was taken to hospital to recover, after ingesting a lot of seawater.
Anna said recounting the experience was surreal, particularly because she had felt like she was operating on autopilot at the time, and acting on instincts.
"It was all adrenaline. I just had to get out there as fast as possible," she said.
The Sarina State High School student, who's been a Nipper for as long as she can remember, received a visit from the grateful survivor after he was released from hospital.
"He came back and gave us flowers and chocolates and that sort of thing, thanked me for saving his life. It was really sweet," Anna smiled.
The teenager received a Lifesaving Excellence Award on Sunday, in front of a crowd of Nippers and club members at Sarina Beach, for her efforts.
Though, Anna described it as all "a bit crazy" and noted she wasn't one to chase the spotlight.
Anna's mum Sally and dad John said they were extremely proud of their daughter's selfless response, while Sarina SLSC president Neil John said Anna was a great example why Nippers training can be so beneficial.
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