AN off-duty lifeguard pulled a drowning three-year-old from a river as the current was pulling her further and further downstream.

Whitehaven family Susan, Alan and Lorraine McDonald were enjoying the nice weather in Crook O’ Lune, near Lancaster, on Saturday afternoon when they heard the words “baby baby” being shouted.

Susan McDonald, who is a trained lifeguard and a former employee of Cockermouth Leisure Centre, was quickly asked to put her training into practice.

“I thought 'what is going on here?',” she explained as she heard the shouting.

“I sprang into action, like aeroplane mode.”

As she looked around she spotted a bundle floating along the River Lune.

“A baby had fallen in the river and the parent couldn’t swim. They tried to save her but the current took the child to where we were,” continued Susan, who went to St Benedict’s School in Whitehaven.

“I swam out in the current to get the child and by the time I got there the three-year-old wasn’t breathing. I swam back in knowing she was unconscious.”

Susan said the child was lying face-down in the river when she got there and when she pulled her out of the water it was a race against time.

Susan performed rescue breaths and CPR in a desperate attempt to revive the child.

“We were lucky that after two compressions she came through. I have never been so relieved to hear a child cry. When I heard the sound of crying, I knew she was alive,” continued Susan.

The child was then whisked off to hospital and spent two days in the Lancaster Infirmary before she was released.

An air ambulance was stood down at the scene. Susan says she is going to meet the child’s family at the weekend, as they have asked for the chance to say thank you in person.

“If I hadn’t got to her she would’ve gone with the current and would have drowned,” said Susan.

“I was worried she might have brain damage due to being underwater for so long but the 48-hour observation ruled that out.

“She will make a full recovery.”

Susan says it was touch and go.

“The ambulance was 10 minutes away and I knew to do compressions. If she hadn’t got that she would have died,” she explained.

“If I hadn’t got to her, the current would have killed her.”

Brother Alan McDonald is very proud. “I was astounded,” he said.

“It could happen to anyone. They’ve gone to the water’s edge, the guy has turned his back and the baby has fallen in by the bridge.

“When you get your lifeguard training you think there are some things you expect you’ll never use in a real life situation, so for her to do that I am really pleased.”