Grace Harris has been involved in lifesaving for the last decade and all her hard work paid off recently when she won the U19 short course format at the Coolangatta Gold, one of the most challenging endurance races in surf sports. She was also a finalist in Youth Athlete of the Year at the LSV Awards of Excellence and came second in the U17 board race at Aussies. Here’s her lifesaving story:
Water safety, active patrolling member and bronze medallion / SRC camp helper.
How long have you been involved in lifesaving?
I have been involved in lifesaving since I was 7 years old in under 8’s.
What made you become involved in lifesaving?
Living on the beach it was only natural to become involved in Nippers. I have a twin brother and we both just love the ocean. Nippers gave us skills for life and a further education and respect for the ocean, as well as a large community involvement.
What are some of your responsibilities at your club?
I aim to be a good role model for the upcoming Nippers and the future lifesavers of our club. As we know, this movement runs on a lot of volunteers, so I do believe that it’s my responsibility to give back to my club to enable others to have the same experience and opportunities as I have had. It is also important that I am available to help patrol our beach, especially on busy days where more numbers might be needed. Helping out with tin rattles and other fundraising events is also important as that keeps our club going.
What do you enjoy most about lifesaving?
There are so many things I love about lifesaving. It has become my chosen sport and I love the training and competing aspect that is involved in lifesaving. I have made so many friends from other clubs in Victoria, as well as interstate, and I know these friendships will be lifelong. I also love that it has taught me valuable life skills, enabling me to patrol a beach or help with important lifesaving First Aid. I always enjoy patrolling with my friends.
How do you encourage others to get involved with lifesaving and volunteering?
I always talk to people about what an amazing lifestyle lifesaving is. I get to spend my time down the beach and travel around Australia competing in surf sports. I also try to encourage my swimming friends to do their bronze, as from there it opens up so many more opportunities by being involved in a life saving club.
What is your greatest achievement in Surf Lifesaving so far?
My greatest achievement in lifesaving so far would have to be 2 things:
- Winning the U19 short course Coolangatta Gold
- Coming second at Aussies this year in the U17 board race
I was really proud to achieve this as a Victorian and I also always love representing Victoria at the interstate championships.
What types of rescues have you been involved in?
I haven’t yet been involved in a major rescue scenario, however, due to Torquay being such a busy beach over the summer months, I always try to maintain a safe beach and encourage all beachgoers to swim between the flags and keep the surfers out. We know the regular rips we have to keep an eye on at our beach and often the reef is exposed, so there can be lots to look out for.
What’s been the most surprising part of being a volunteer with your club?
It’s been surprising to have so many opportunities within my club to ‘up skill’ myself by gaining many valuable awards. Last summer, I worked towards accreditation for the Silver Medallion. These awards we get the opportunity to attain are highly respected and wouldn’t be achieved if we were not in the lifesaving movement. We have some very passionate trainers and assessors in our club.
When you’re not lifesaving, what keeps you busy?
I will complete Year 11 this year and will be doing year 12 in 2019. I also train and enjoy competing in pool swimming. I don’t have much spare time when school, surf sports and swimming are all combined.
What was the best advice you were ever given and who gave it to you?
I have had many incredible coaches throughout my involvement in lifesaving. My swim coach John Beckworth always encourages me to believe in my ability and to enjoy the process instead of focusing on the outcome. My board coach Zeb Walsh tells me to be hungry, take risks and in his words “grind”.