KITCHENER -- A Guelph teen is being hailed a hero after she helped rescue a kayaker who nearly drowned.

The incident happened on July 26 at Sunset Point Beach in Collingwood, while 16-year-old Jamey Klassen was on a week-long family vacation.

Klassen says she heard people calling 911 saying someone was drowning, and when she looked out on the water, she saw a man about 200 metres away holding onto a kayak.

“Honestly, not a whole lot was going through my head except that he needed help,” Klassen says.

She says she immediately hit the water and swam out to the man who was in trouble. Once she got to him, Klassen says the man was submerged under water.

Klassen pulled the man up and started swimming back with him, resting his head on her shoulder.

She said her main concern was that the man was unresponsive.

“There was just one moment of fear where I didn’t know if he would be able to make it,” she says.

Klassen says the man began showing signs that he was alive, but she had a tough time making it to shore.

“She was starting to struggle to hold him up it looked like … it kind of felt like I got there at the right time for her,” said Dan Perra, a Collingwood resident who was at the beach when the incident unfolded.

Perra went out on his paddleboard to see what was going on when he heard Klassen calling for help. He helped put the man on the paddleboard and bring him back to shore.

The man was taken to hospital in critical condition by emergency services.

“Jamey was a hero. She put her life in danger to save him,” Perra says.

Klassen says she doesn’t consider herself a hero and just did what needed to be done. Her parents say they’re very proud of her for saving a life.

Klassen is a former competitive swimmer and was working towards her lifeguard certification when the pandemic hit.

The Life Saving Society is reminding people to always wear a life jacket when they’re out on the water. They also say if a person goes out on the water to help someone in distress, it’s important to have assistance or a flotation device with them.

The man that Klassen saved is now recovering.

WIth reporting from Carmen Wong.