GRATEFUL: Taleah Johnson, 16, was rescued from the swell at Mooloolaba Beach on Saturday with help from a stranger.
GRATEFUL: Taleah Johnson, 16, was rescued from the swell at Mooloolaba Beach on Saturday with help from a stranger. Patrick Woods

Can you help us find the hero who saved Taleah?

"COME forward so I can say thanks."

That's the message from the mother of a 16-year-old girl rescued by a stranger at Mooloolaba Beach on Saturday.

Taleah Johnson was swimming with friends when she was caught in the surf break about 1.45pm.

"I was really scared that I wasn't going to survive," she said yesterday.

"I was freaking out."

Taleah is a confident swimmer, her mother Nadene Johnson said, and had never had a close call.

"She was right in the section of water where they were breaking, so every time she got her head out to get a breath, a wave would break on top of her," Ms Johnson said.

She said her daughter was between the flags but lifesavers had not seen her struggling and waving at first.

"I'm just so grateful for the man who went and tried to help her," she said.

"I'd love to be able to find him and say thank you to him myself."

The stranger reached Taleah and kept her head above water until a lifesaver on a rescue board reached her.

"It's so nice that he didn't think of anything else, he just went and helped her," Ms Johnson said.

"Not everybody would do that."

One of Taleah's friends ran to alert a surf lifesaver, who paddled out to her aid and brought her to shore.

Surf Life Saving Queensland regional manager Aaron Purchase said lifesavers and lifeguards were always vigilant, but swimming with friends was a good safeguard to ensure people did not end up in trouble.

"It's definitely not uncommon for people to keep an eye out and help out those around them," he said.

"Lifeguards, while they are always vigilant, it takes them a bit of time to get to them," he said.

Send us an email at editorial@scnews.com.au if you have details.

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