SWIFT and decisive action to prevent an unfolding tragedy and potentially save the life of a friend has seen Mannum teenager Ella Deramore-Denver crowned Mid Murray Council's Young Citizen of the Year.
Ella was nominated after the brave rescue of her friend on the River Murray in October last year.
The then 16-year-old from Mannum girl leaped into action during a rowing training session on the river.
Her friend was trapped underwater and unconscious.
The heroine said it was a nice morning and it was calm on the river when the incident happened.
"I freaked out a fair bit. It was a bit of a heart-stopper," she said.
Ella said as time ticked away she became more anxious about the situation.
"I decided to back up my boat ... I was a good 30 metres away and in the end I gave up and just jumped into the water because it was quicker," she said.
"I ended up grabbing the boat and supporting my friend's head on my shoulder."
The incident happened about 200 metres from the opening of Mannum Waters.
"I didn't think anyone would hear me, but I just screamed my guts out for ages before someone heard me," she said.
"I had the boat on my shoulder to hold our weight."
It was then that a Mannum Waters resident called for an ambulance and police arrived first on the scene taking the pair to the hospital.
Mid Murray Mayor David Burgess said the heroic efforts were "truly commendable".
"Ella's bravery, quick-thinking and sheer hard work prevented an unthinkable tragedy and saved the life of her friend," he said.
Ella said reflecting on the events still made her emotional.
"Even now thinking about it, it still kind of affects me and my rowing," she said.
Ella is a high achiever in the sport, having won state rowing titles in 2018 and 2019 in single scull and double-scull competition.
During the 2019-20 season, she was chosen in the State pathways squad to represent South Australia in the girls' state rowing team.
Ella - who is entering Year 12 at the Mannum Community College next week - said she was humbled by the award.
"It is good to get recognition, but I think if anyone else was in the same position, they would do the same thing, regardless of whether it was a friend of a stranger," she said.