Volunteer Profile: Abby Esdale

Abby Esdale has made a name for herself in lifesaving sports,  racing Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs) since 2009. With boats flying through the surf, IRB racing requires strength and skill and is not for the faint-hearted!

Competitive IRB racing involves five events, all involving a crewman, driver and a patient: tube rescue, single rescue, mass rescue, teams rescue & the lifesaver relay.

Photo credit: Mark Doro

Volunteer Role:

I am currently an active patrolling member, and vice patrol captain at Williamstown Swimming & Lifesaving Club.

What are some of your responsibilities at your club?

I am club captain at Williamstown S&LSC, so am responsible for helping out with events, uniform and nippers. Over summer, I helped coach and prepare our nippers for summer competition. I also have been a part of organising social events such as our club championships & club captains’ challenge.

How long have you been involved in lifesaving and how did you get started?

I actually started lifesaving as a nipper, however it didn’t last long as I hated it (shh). But then when I was 15, a good friend at school needed someone to fill the last spot in her beach relay team, so asked me to join Williamstown to compete with her. Ten years later, and I am still here.


How were you introduced to training and competing in lifesaving sport and IRB racing?

I started training and competing the moment I joined the club (as this was originally the reason I joined). I raced summer competition at Williamstown for two years before racing IRB. I’d actually never even heard of IRB racing until some of the boys at our club decided they wanted me to be their patient, so introduced me to the sport.


How long have you been racing IRBs?

I’ve been racing IRB since 2009, but took two years off to travel. So I’ve been racing for six years, this will be my seventh year.


Tell us about your successes over the past couple of years.

In 2014, I won my first IRB Aussies gold medal in the Women’s Tube Rescue Race (as the swimmer) alongside my two team members. Since then we have won it two more times (2015 & 2016). Three years in a row is pretty amazing.


I was also a member of the team that came third at Aussies last year in the IRB Women’s Teams Rescue Race.

Last year, I was nominated to be the Victorian IRB State Team Captain, which I am pretty proud of.


What motivates you (or the team) to compete?

I think a huge motivator is the fact that our whole IRB team is like a big crazy family, and we all want to compete and do our best for one another, to get the whole team across the line. Each individual win is a win for the whole team. We support each other through all the ups and downs of racing, and life. My closest friends are those that I have made through racing.


Another big motivator, or reason to race, is getting to travel to and race at all these amazing beaches in Australia. In my time of racing, I’ve been lucky enough to compete in Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.

What do you most enjoy about lifesaving?

My friends. I love the social side of lifesaving, and all the lovely people I’ve met. Not just at my club, but throughout all clubs (both in Victoria and interstate). Lifesaving has such a strong feeling of community, we all accept one another, and it is great to be involved in something like that.

How do you encourage others to get involved with lifesaving and volunteering? 

By showing people that there is so much to gain from being involved in lifesaving and volunteering. It’s rewarding to be an active volunteering member of the community, and lifesaving provides so many avenues to learn new skills. It is also just a great way to get outside, get active, and make new friends.

What is your greatest achievement in lifesaving so far?
Personally, my greatest achievement is just where I am right now. I never thought that when I joined Williamstown S&LSC, I’d still be here 10 years on, and be such an active and important role model at the club.

I am proud to be someone that the nippers can look up to. Winning the IRB Tube Rescue Race three years in a row is also top of the list of my greatest achievements.

When you’re not lifesaving, what keeps you busy?

University, I am currently in my third year of an Exercise Science degree so am always studying (or procrastinating study). My dog Asher (who is crazy), also keeps me extremely busy, I spend many hours at the dog park throwing the ball for him!

What was the best advice you were ever given and who gave it to you?

“Go with the flow”. I saw this message written on a brick wall three years ago, and it stuck with me, I think it is a great life motto to have. So whoever wrote it, big thanks to you!


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