Man Saved by Fordham Swimmers: ‘You guys gave me a new life’



Connor Wright, FCRH ’22, along with fellow teammates, helped save a man from drowning in Miami.


A training session in Miami, Florida, on Jan. 10 turned into a full-fledged rescue by three members of Fordham’s men’s swim team when they noticed a man struggling in the ocean’s riptide. 

Dilane Wehbe, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’22, was with his fellow swim teammates on Miami Beach in between morning practices. The student-athletes were in Florida over their winter break for an annual training session trip that Fordham organizes for both the men’s and women’s swim teams.

“That day the waves were pretty big,” Wehbe said. He said that the lifeguards on the beach informed the swimmers to be wary of the water because of a strong rip current forming. Wehbe and his friends got out of the water and, not long after, he noticed a man in the ocean beyond the safe swimming area marked by a buoy.

Immediately Wehbe responded to the situation; “it was just a fight or flight reaction and I got out there and swam to him.”

Once he reached the man, Wehbe struggled for a while to keep him up without any rescue equipment. Eventually, his teammates Connor Wright, FCRH ’22; and Patrick Wilson, FCRH ’21, noticed their teammate struggling and swam out to help. 

Pulling the man from the water was “unbelievably hard,” Wehbe said. “If Connor and Patrick hadn’t come out there, I think I would’ve drowned out there with him.”

It took about 15 minutes for the Fordham swimmers to pull the man to shore. They had all swallowed a lot of water while fighting through the rip current and worried about the man suffocating from secondary drowning once they got him to land, Wehbe said. 

Secondary drowning happens when too much water gets into the lungs, irritating the lungs’ lining. It can sometimes lead to a condition called pulmonary edema, where it becomes hard to breathe. 

Knowing the complications of secondary drowning, the young men didn’t want to chance leaving the man alone. Therefore, once ashore, Wright stayed with him while the other two swimmers brought the beach lifeguards over to confirm that there would be no further medical complications.

Wehbe, Wright and Wilson are each lifeguards for Sachuest Beach in Rhode Island, Monmouth Beach in New Jersey, and Jones Beach in New York, respectively. This wasn’t any of their first time saving someone from the water. 

“Doing that as a summer job, you expect stuff like that to happen, but when you’re on the beach with your teammates and you see that, it’s so much harder,” Wehbe said.

After the rescue was over, the man expressed his gratitude to the Fordham swimmers and even followed them on Facebook, according to Wehbe. 

Wehbe said the young men received a message from him a few days after saying, “You guys gave me a new life.”

“It was really cool to know that I could do that for someone,” Wehbe said.