Swimmer Sterre salutes Stratford leisure centre lifesaver

PUBLISHED: 18:10 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 10:34 25 April 2018

Lifesaver Nicola Parker (left) with Sterra Ploeger. Picture: Ken Mears

Lifesaver Nicola Parker (left) with Sterra Ploeger. Picture: Ken Mears


An avid swimmer who suffered a cardiac arrest in a Stratford swimming pool has returned to thank the team that saved her life.

Joined by friends and family, Sterre Ploeger today presented flowers and a handmade thank you card to Atherton Leisure Centre’s Nicola Parker.

It was at the pool in Romford Road that the 26-year-old from Greengate Street, Plaistow, suddenly collapsed in the water.

“Nobody was expecting this,” said her mum Yvonne Brouwer, 65.

“She was like a ragdoll, completely lifeless and she couldn’t see any life in her.”

A strong swimmer, Sterre was racking up lengths with her friend and carer around 3.30pm on January 5 when trouble struck.

“She suddenly just keeled over,” said helper Hannah Facey.

“Her friend had just done a tumble turn and we thought maybe she was trying to do one, but actually she hates putting her face in the water.”

Sterre, the 30-year-old said, then went “completely lifeless” and stopped breathing.

“She was blue all over,” added mum Yvonne.

While her daughter suffered from a minor heart condition, she said this had never happened before in the water, where Sterre would regularly race through 30 lengths a session.

As Sterre lay lifeless, Hannah and her friend shouted for a lifeguard, who hauled her out of the pool and called for a manager.

Eventually, after six rounds of CPR from Nicola and a shock from the centre’s defibrillator, her heart began beating again.

“They revived her within three to four minutes, and that’s why she wasn’t brain damaged,” said Hannah.

“The lady who did it [Nicola], she trains the lifeguards but she’s never actually had to give it to a person before.

“Sterre was the first person, and she saved her.”

After a nerve-wracking few weeks in hospital, where Sterre had an internal defibrillator installed and then replaced after it became infected, she walked out with no permanent injuries.

This, added Yvonne, was “such incredible luck”.

Praising the centre’s staff, she said the ordeal highlighted the need for more of the lifesaving devices in public spaces.

“I really want to thank them with all my heart for their actions and saving my daughter’s life.”

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