Alex Dayton, 20, saved a young woman Aug. 2 in Sea Isle City
Alex Dayton’s swimming and lifeguarding experience paid off earlier this month when she saved a young woman who nearly drowned off a beach in Sea Isle City.
Dayton, 20, of Cherry Hill, jumped into action around 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2, after she heard people screaming while she was enjoying a day on the beach with her family.
The former swimmer at Cherry Hill High School East has been a lifeguard for five years, but she only ever patrolled pools. Nonetheless, Dayton ran into the surf to rescue the woman, who she estimated was 30 to 40 yards out from the shore.
“I wasn’t really thinking,” Dayton said. “I just wanted to get her safe.”
“I think in about two more minutes she would have gone under,” she added. “It seemed like she was fighting for a while to stay above water.”
Sea Isle City Beach Patrol Chief Renny Steele said lifeguards are not stationed at that section of beach. He confirmed that beachgoers rescued a young woman that day and said she was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
“When we arrived, the girl was out of the water,” Steele said.
Steele identified the young woman as Destiny Boyd, possibly of Vineland. He declined to elaborate on her condition, citing health privacy laws.
Boyd could not be reached for comment.
Isabella Dayton, Alex’s mother, watched the rescue from the shore. She told her daughter to help Boyd but said she got nervous when she saw Alex dive into the water.
“She put her head underwater to swim faster,” Isabella said. “I was scared for both of them.”
Boyd wrapped her arms around Alex when the two met in the water, and both started to sink, Isabella said. After Alex started pulling Boyd to shore, a man also helped bring the two to safety.
Both Alex and Isabella Dayton said the ocean was rough and the currents were strong on the day of the rescue — so much so that an experienced swimmer like Alex didn’t feel comfortable going into the water.
“It was windy and you could feel the undertow,” Isabella said.
Alex said Boyd laid on the sand but could not sit or stand in the moments after the rescue.
“She was breathing, but she was so tired from struggling in the water,” Alex said. “She was pretty confused.”
Isabella said everyone else on the beach nearby cheered for her daughter after Boyd was rescued.
“Honestly, she did not think of herself,” Isabella said. “For a mother to see that and for a beach to be clapping for her daughter when she came out of the ocean, it was amazing.”
Alex, who is entering her junior year at West Virginia University, credited her lifeguard training and time spent swimming competitively in high school and at Fox Hollow Swim Club.
“I’m just grateful for my past experience as a lifeguard,” she said.