Says Zell, "If you know what to do in that situation, you're supposed to push that person off of you.... He's probably just climbing all over her. But the mom instinct is to pull him close."
Apparently Rhiannon had been able to shoulder-press her son to get the surfers' attention while treading water. Hysterical strength. And now the young surfers were coming.
Caleb and Johan say that as they closed in, they could see that Rhiannon was exhausted. She was pushing Julian up just to keep him above the water. She would raise him, sink under the water herself and then reappear.
Rhiannon seemed to shove Julian forward. Julian would recall feeling her hand, under the water, on his foot. Caleb reached out and snatched Julian. He turned and placed the boy on his surfboard.
Julian is safe. Finish line.
They were less than 10 feet away from her, but in the time it took Caleb to turn back around, Rhiannon had breathed her last breath and vanished into the sea.
When the finish line is moved, runners struggle to continue beyond the expected terminus.
Johan dived down, but the current had stirred the water with sand. The ocean was "dirty," he would say.