A former Burnley swimmer has been hailed a hero for saving a teenager from drowning days after being hurt while arresting a man armed with a gun.
Whangamata police constable Jayne Dowling (39), who emigrated to New Zealand in September 2008, who swam for Burnley Bobcats, was off-duty and sightseeing with her partner Darren when she noticed three girls in trouble across the Waikato River, Cambridge.
The qualified lifeguard, former British age-group swimmer and England rugby player, jumped into action, diving into the water.
Despite challenging conditions and a shoulder injury, she managed to get to the trio, and send two of the girls ashore with the help of another woman. She then bravely dragged the remaining teen through the water, while an onlooker grabbed life jackets and dialled 111.
Now her dad Mr Terry Dowling (74), of Linden Road, Colne, has told of his pride: “She is marvellous.
“Jayne gave me a call to tell me about it, and to say she is up for a bravery award in New Zealand as well.
“She said it was a bit frightening at one point, as she was getting nowhere, and the water was pulling her back – but she managed it in the end.
“Less than a week before, she was called to an incident when she was on duty, and when she came to make an arrest she noticed the man had a shotgun, and she disarmed him. She has always been very brave.”
The mum-of-two told the Coastal News she had only done what anyone would have.
The New Zealand bodybuilding champion said: “You don’t just stand there and watch a child drown. The first thing I did when I reached her was promise I would help her.
“But at one point I thought we were both going to go under. It was a very frightening experience, but I’m no worse for it.”
According to Mr Dowling, his daughter had wanted to be in the police force from a young age.
She got into Lancashire Police on her second attempt, before taking part in Operation Nimrod – a police operation tackling street-level drug dealing in Lancashire.