Quick-thinking passers-by also hurled themselves into the water and the toddler, who is believed to be about a year old, was brought back to the safety of the quayside.
Victor Martinez, 51, said he did not think twice about jumping in to help with the dramatic rescue after he saw the young girl’s arms flailing from the sides of the pushchair.
He dived into the river and swam under the sinking pram to push it and the youngster back up to the surface.
He then helped the youngster’s shocked mother bring the girl, who is understood to have been completely unharmed in the drama, back to the quayside.
The other two are believed to be Stuart Mensies and Andy Travers, who were taking part in the boat race.
Mr Martinez dived in when he saw the child in the water and swam underneath the pram after it began sinking to push it back to the surface.
He said: ‘I was standing on the side with other members of my team – The Raging Dragons – when I heard a deafening scream.
‘At first I wondered why the woman was so worried about a pram, but then I saw the baby girl’s arms flailing on both sides of the buggy.
‘I didn’t think about it, I just ran and dived straight in the water. I think I hit the water at the same time as the buggy. I didn’t think twice.’
He added: ‘It was getting heavier and heavier, and me and my teammate Stuart Menzies, who jumped in after me, were struggling to push it up.’
‘I thought about unstrapping the baby but I just kept thinking we have to get her to the surface quickly.
‘We managed to get her to the top and I was struggling to keep the buggy at the surface when I saw the girl’s face for the first time – she was screaming and crying but I looked into her eyes which were full of river water and just thought that she wasn’t going to drown today.
‘I think seeing her face gave me the extra push and we managed to get the pram to the wall.’
* * *
Early last month, there was also another incident reported at the River Exe which saw a woman rescued in a critical condition.
Shortly before 9.15am on Sundaym, May 11th, police and other emergency services were called to the river near the Port Royal public house after a woman was reported to be floating in the water.
A police spokesman said: “The 56-year-old woman was rescued from the water and taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where she remains in a critical condition.”
“River Exe” by www.flickr.com/photos/isherlock, License: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/