ENGLISH tourist Marie Bennett was convinced she was going to die after being swept into deep water at Peregian Beach on Friday.

She has no doubt she owes her life to the guardians of the sea - our volunteer surf lifesavers.

The Birmingham woman had only been in the country a week when she decided to go for a swim.

"I went for a paddle and the sand just collapsed," she said. "I was in waist-high water, in the flagged area, I don't really know what happened. I'm a good swimmer, I swam for my county, but I was taken out by a rip and got into trouble. I thought I was going to die, that I wouldn't see my grandchildren."

Then she saw what she thought was a swimmer with another "young lad" on a surfboard.

"They were saving the children with the surfboard," she said.

Near her were two other children - aged around nine - who were also in trouble.

"The kids were braver than me. I said 'we are going to die'. I was bawling my eyes out."

But what Ms Bennett thought was "just another swimmer", was seasoned lifesaver Stuart Albrecht.

With the help of 14-year-old cadet Harry Porter, Mr Albrecht was able to bring the swimmers to safe waters.

"I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed when I got out," Ms Bennett said. "I feel lucky to be alive. It just happened so quick. That sand went from underneath me and massive waves were coming over me."

The lucky tourist returned to the surf club on Sunday in the hope of finding her rescuers, saying a heartfelt "thank you" and leaving a donation.

She said she feared many foreigners might be unaware of the perils of the seas.

"I was waist deep in water, maybe there needs to a strong message of how dangerous it can be."

The Daily was able to connect her with Mr Albrecht yesterday so she could say "thanks" in person.

Mr Albrecht said there had been a "surging swell" on Good Friday and about 10 people had been swept off the sandbar into a rip.

He played down his rescue, saying she "was in no real danger".

$400m cannabis farm to create 1000 jobs

Premium Content $400m cannabis farm to create 1000 jobs

Australia’s fledgling medicinal cannabis industry is ramping up

DON'T MISS IT: Activate your free bonus for big rewards

Premium Content DON'T MISS IT: Activate your free bonus for big rewards

Did you know you can get even more – for free?

ALL THE ACTION: State T20 battles thrill

Premium Content ALL THE ACTION: State T20 battles thrill

See the photos from Twenty20 as under 16s hit the pitch for day two.