The Jaguar Land Rover employee just wants the incident to encourage people to learn lifesaving techniques and teach their children to swim.

“I started swimming very early because I fell in a pond when I was three years old and nearly drowned,” he explained.

Brought up on a farm in Staffordshire, Pete’s parents were only alerted to the danger by a barking dog, and the scare prompted them to teach him swimming.

“When I was 12 or 13 I did a lifesaving course, by that point I was a pretty competent swimmer.”

But Pete, who now lives in Ratley, near Edgehill, with his wife and two daughters, had never been called upon before.

Then shortly before midnight on Friday 7th March, while he was on his way to pick up his daughter from a friend’s house, he noticed a commotion on the Seven Meadows Bridge.

“I heard a lot of screaming and it was pretty obvious that somebody had gone into the river,” he said.

“It didn’t look good so I just stripped off and jumped in and swam out to her; it was just adrenaline; I didn’t think about it.”

Eyewitnesses watched Pete hold the woman, who did not wish to be named, above the water for 20 minutes.

“I wasn’t sure if she could swim. To start with I was just treading water, I didn’t want to swim back with her because the current was too strong.

“I was able to reach a point when I could just about stand up in the river and hold her up above my head.

“There were people on the bridge so I knew the police and the fire brigade would get there. I just tried to keep her talking, tried to keep her calm, saying we are going to be OK. She was just scared.”

When the fire service arrived, one of them tied a piece of rope around his waist and swam out to retrieve the woman.

Pete dried himself off, put his clothes back on, and went and got his daughter.

Pete said: “Once she got over being cross because I was half an hour late and didn’t respond to her texts I think she was really pleased.”

The Royal Life Saving Society, the UK’s drowning prevention charity based in Broom, near Alcester, is recommending Pete for one of its Certificates of Commendation.

Yesterday, the society’s director of lifesaving, Adrian Lole, said: “Entering the water in an attempt to rescue someone is always the very last resort and should only be attempted by someone trained to do so.

“It is very lucky that Pete had previously been on a lifesaving course and had both the skills and confidence to help and we commend him on his quick thinking and bravery.”

The charity offers lifesaving courses across the country and Pete, who taught his daughters to swim at an early age, urged people to sign up.

“Once you can swim, lifesaving isn’t a big step,” he said. “People should do it, I don’t know what would’ve happened to that girl if nobody who knew lifesaving had driven past, I don’t think it would’ve been good.”