Volunteer Role: Nipper coach / water competitor
Current Club: Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club
How long have you been involved in lifesaving?
About 37 years but have had periods where I wasn’t active. I started as an Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) Nipper at age seven but had five years out between aged 10 and 15 when I was pool swimming more seriously, but then managed to combine both sports. The ocean finally won and I’ve never looked back to the still water.
What made you become involved in lifesaving?
Initially it was because we had a holiday house in Anglesea but it continued to play such a large part in my life because I just love the ocean. I met my husband at Anglesea surf club and now our kids are involved. It’s an evolving involvement.
What are some of your responsibilities at your club?
I’m mainly coaching the Nippers at the moment but as a family we are getting more involved in the junior activities generally. It’s not a responsibility but I like to do the odd race to show the kids (and myself) that surf lifesaving is a life skill and hopefully it gives me some credibility as a mentor and coach.
What do you most enjoy about lifesaving?
I’m very proud of the movement in general and the service we provide to the community. People in surf lifesaving tend to be selfless volunteers and I’ve met wonderful people and made lifelong friends. As mentioned also, I am a happy person when I’m in the ocean.
How do you encourage others to get involved with lifesaving and volunteering?
As a Nipper Coach I am working from grassroots up just trying to get as many kids as possible to enjoy the water and improve their skills. It’s about having fun. I am looking forward to our Nippers doing their Surf Rescue Certificate (SRC) and then their Bronze Medallion before becoming fully-fledged lifesavers. There are lots of parents who are new to lifesaving as well and it’s been great to see them getting involved and accredited in various areas from Bronze to Officials.
What is your greatest achievement in lifesaving so far?
I feel like my greatest achievement has been the longevity and level I achieved whilst living in Melbourne and working full-time. I didn’t start surf lifesaving competition seriously until I was 23. Before then I dabbled in swim races at carnivals as was still focused on pool swimming. At 23 I learnt to paddle a board and then pretty soon afterwards (with a lot of hard work) qualified for the Meadow Lea Series (Uncle Toby’s women’s series at the time) and then raced for seven years professionally as an Ironwoman.
I had just qualified for Meadow Lea when I got my first full-time job in advertising so I decided to give them both a go. I’m really proud that I stuck it out in chilly Melbourne and proved that you don’t need to move to Queensland to do well. I placed regularly in the Series and got National and World title medals over multiple events throughout my career. Ski was added to the Ironwoman a few years after I had already been in the Series so I had to quickly learn that discipline too. I was fortunate to have a great group of female training and racing partners – we were from several different clubs but trained together. It wasn’t unusual to have five or more Victorians in an Open final at Aussies or Worlds. We had great fun and we also got good results – special mention to my board rescue partner Julia Cullity who was an amazing board paddler and the most reliable team member you could ever wish for. I raced for Torquay SLSC for 12 years and they were super supportive and I loved it there but I trained at Anglesea SLSC under Stuart Fox for a short period and then Chris Porter. Near the end of my main competitive years (early 30s!) I moved back to Anglesea SLSC to repay them for the support they gave me even when I wasn’t racing in the green and white. More recently I came 3rd in Open in the Coolangatta Gold as a 39 year old mother of two. The two girls that beat me went on to come first and second in Kellogg’s series that season. I haven’t raced in Masters that much yet as seem to like to have a few years between each training/racing bout but I go quite well when I make the effort. This year at Aussies I won the swim, board and ironwoman in my age. It’s nice that the skills and fitness from so many years of hard training are still there!
When you’re not lifesaving, what keeps you busy?
My kids are nine and six and they definitely keep me busy with their extra curricular activities but I also work as a travel agent. Travel was always a passion and after having kids I had a chance to reflect on corporate life and make the career change to something I really enjoy doing myself – I also travel around the world as much as I can making sure I research as many places as I can for my clients!
What was the best advice you were ever given and who gave it to you?
There are so many people who have given me extremely valuable advice over the years but probably the best advice came from David Strahan who was the person who encouraged me to try board paddling. If he hadn’t handed me a board and told me I would enjoy it then I wouldn’t have got as involved and had the long career I have. He was right that I would love it.
Chris Porter has given me so much advice I can’t pinpoint anything in particular. I was really fortunate to have him as a coach for many many years and I continue to hassle him for help. I’ll be looking to him for advice that will hopefully make me half the coach he is.