Matuschka’s Meteoric Rise

It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Avoca’s Kaitlyn Matuschka who enjoyed arguably her most successful summer campaign last year.

Returning to the familiar waters of Ocean Beach – Umina with the title of defending state champion on her CV for her first full season in open competition might faze some people, but this talented 20-year-old is certainly up for the challenge.

At last year’s State Championships in what was one of the most highly competitive age groups Kaitlyn came away with gold in the U19 Ski and Board, and silver in the Ironwoman.

But it was her efforts to win the Open Ski in her first ever attempt against elite level competitors that made everyone take notice.

Boosted by the confidence that being a medallist brings, less than a month later the modest Matuschka proved it wasn’t a fluke when she claimed silver in her favoured U19 Ski event and bronze in the Ironwoman at The Aussies.

Even now, a year down the line, Matuschka still can’t quite believe she’s an Open champion given the amount of talent that is currently on the women’s circuit.

“All of a sudden you’re on the start line with half the Nutri-Grain girls every race. It really was a different experience for me. It’s exciting but at the same time nerve wracking, and a big step up from racing in you r own age group,” Matuschka said.

“It was unbelievable to win that Open Ski event as I didn’t expect it at all. When you’re not in the Opens you just do it as an extra race and I was just really happy to make the final and maybe even get a podium finish, but to win I was just wrapped.”

The Open Women’s water finals are sure to be a highlight of this year’s Championships with a crack field that wouldn’t be out of place on the national stage.

“We have a bunch of really talented girls particularly in my age group but even in the younger ones coming through as well. There’s so many talented athletes in NSW it’s going to be a really hard competition.”

Several of Matushschka’s contemporaries have already made the step up to the professional circuit, but she doesn’t think she will be joining them anytime soon.

“I’ve been trying to get to the standard of professional Iron, but I just can’t fully commit to it at this point. I’m not a huge fan of swimming at the best of times and try to avoid that where I can and unfortunately it’s a huge part of the event. I’m happy focusing on the Ski, and I’ll continue to do the Iron because I enjoy it, but to be honest I’ll be happy if I make the final.”

With her home beach a short drive away Kaitlyn Matuschka is looking forward to competing in familiar waters for the fourth year in succession.

“It’s really cool to be able to have the carnival here in our own branch. We’ve had a couple of carnivals at Umina already this season, and there have always been waves which makes it fun. We’re close to home as well so really we can’t complain.

I personally like it here. There’s always a sandbank even at high tide which helps me out a bit with my long legs,” she laughed.

Having been loyal to Avoca Beach ever since she joined as nipper at the tender age of 5, hers is just the latest name on a long list of successful water athletes to come out of the club.

“I don’t know if it’s just our club or other clubs are like this, but we’re really a family club. We’re brothers and sisters and we all have a laugh together. We work together and push each other hard at training, and at the end of the year all the individual results are everyone’s. We help each other get to where we want to go. It’s a very team oriented environment and I think that’s why we have enjoyed so much success,” she said.

Apart from the competitive side of Surf Sports, Kaitlyn feels that being a member of the Surf Life Saving Family has been really beneficial to her over the years.

“I think more than anything the thing I really enjoy about it is the friendship aspect. All of my friends that I am close to now were all made through Surf Life Saving and I have friends now in just about every state. It’s just a really good platform for meeting new people.”

Her bubbly personality belies her steely focus – and the quiet determination that has propelled her to success in recent times comes to the fore when she outlines her goals for this year’s Championship.

“Here at the State Champs I would like to make all the Open Finals of the Board, Ski and Iron events as well as hopefully defend my title in the ski. It’s going to be hard, but I’m going to have a go at it.

“Ultimately in the future I’d love to win an Aussies Open Ski race. I don’t know if it will happen this year or even if it will ever happen, but that’s the big goal.”

If Kaitlyn Matuschka can build on her solid 2016 form that dream might be closer than she ever realised.

Thu 10 Mar 2016