A LIFEGUARD who tried to save two brothers drowning in a lake says the incident "still keeps me awake at night" as he was presented with an award from the Royal Life Saving Society.

Yanek Kowal, 65, leapt into Lake Ullswater on August 1 to save brothers Bryxzel and Ayxzel Galeon, who got into difficulties trying to reach a pontoon.

Mr Kowal managed to save Ayxzel, the younger sibling, but was unable to save Bryxzel, who had already gone under the surface of the water.

He said: "We were fishing and I said to my wife 'there could be a problem' as we saw the two of them getting into difficulty.

"I jumped in and went to try and save them.

"Using my lifeguard training, I knew that there was more chance of saving the younger lad as he was still above the surface.

"People usually do not survive more than about four minutes once they are submerged and so I had to make that difficult decision because I could only save one of them.

"When I reached him in the water, he grabbed hold of me and we both went under for a while.

"I thought I was going to die, so I had to force him away from me and use a different kind of lift to get him out of the water.

"I have found it difficult to sleep at night since it happened, and when I close my eyes I can still see the young man going down."

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Mr Kowal, who is a lifeguard in Hereford was presented with an award by Robert Gofton, CEO of the Royal Life Saving Society.

Mr Gofton said: "The word hero is bandied round too often these days but people like Yanek are true heroes.

"We need to educate people on the dangers of cold water shock and on the risk of drowning.

"Our strategy needs to be a bit different with swimming in lakes and quarries.

"Warning signs and fences are fine but people often see them as opportunities rather than warnings and go in anyway."