Clubbie Profile April: Riley Fitzsimmons

Our Clubbie Profile for the month of April is Riley Fitzsimmons from Avoca Beach SLSC. Riley recently won two gold and a silver medal at The Australian Surf Life Saving Championships in 30 minutes and one day aims to compete at the Olympics in kayaking.

Name: Riley Fitzsimmons

Age: 18

Surf Life Saving Club: Avoca Beach SLSC

Volunteer Hours: 227.75 hours

Occupation: Builder

When did you join Surf Life Saving and why?

I started Surf Life Saving when I was four years old at my local club, Avoca Beach. I think I started life saving because of how close I lived to the beach and my love for sport. It was a part of my life style and I loved being in the ocean, plus I always looked forward to every weekend because my friends and I would race each other at carnivals then go surfing for hours in the sun.

What is your greatest achievement on the sand?

My greatest achievement on the sand would definitely be my most recent achievement at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships in the open ski relay where our team won the gold medal. It is one of the most coveted events on the program and Avoca has finished 2nd and 3rd many times over the last 4-5 years. I think that's what made it so special, the team I was in consisted of Gordon Jones who did nippers with Avoca in the 80s, Lachlan Tame who was a 90s Avoca nipper and myself in which I was a 00s Avoca nipper.

This meant that Avoca Beach is the only one club team to win the open ski relay at the nationals. The last time Avoca won this event was in 1979 so it was a very special moment for our little club not just for me.

What is your best clubbie memory?

My best clubbie memory would have to be when I'm competing and of course it was when I competed at my first Aussie titles. I was very nervous and my whole family came to watch and I was overwhelmed at how many competitors there were. But I was having fun, the surf was big and challenging; I'll never forget racing at Kurrawa Beach.

Favourite beach that isn’t yours?

My favourite beach other than Avoca would definitely be Burleigh Heads, it's beautiful and the rocks along the point remind me of home. The waves there never disappoint and the people are always friendly from the surf club.

Why do you volunteer as a lifesaver?

I volunteer as a lifesaver so I am able to compete but that's not the only reason I do it, I put on the red and yellow because I like helping people and making Avoca a safe beach.

Who is someone you admire in the Surf Life Saving movement and why?

I admired Richard Brierty. Dicky has done so much for the sport and our club and I've seen him put a lot of time and effort into us as competitors; he helps with coaching, mentoring and just plain old moral support. He's achieved many things for himself in boat sweeping, he's won Aussie gold with his daughter, son and wife on separate occasions. But this year he coached a new comer to Avoca, Ella Beere.

It's been a two year process of learning how to paddle a ski for Ella and Dicky has put in a considerable amount of time and effort into helping Ella learn new skills and techniques. Almost every morning and afternoon Dicky would be out in the water paddling with Ella. It has been obvious that with Dicky’s commitment to helping Ella she won the under 17 ski title at nationals. It’s people like Dicky who show leadership and tenacity that inspire the younger generations to achieve their dreams that is why I admire Richard Brierty.

What are your goals within Surf Life Saving?

A major individual goal of mine would be to one day win the open Australian board or ski title.

You recently returned home from The Aussies, what was the highlight?

A highlight from the recent Australian titles was definitely the open ski relay win but if I was to pick another highlight it would be watching the open board rescue where Trevor and Tj Hendy won. It was an amazing moment in Surf Life Saving history that will be talked about for many years, its one thing to win an Aussies medal but to win it as a father and son combo is another.

You won two gold, a silver and a bronze medal in relays which is an amazing effort for the club. Tell us about the team spirit within your club.

The team spirit in Avoca is huge, we turn up to training day in day out and help each other along if someone's having a bad day, we all try to cheer them up because we are like a family. We work hard for each other because we like the reputation of "if you turn up to the start line and see an Avoca cap you know you’re in for a hard race because we don't give up." The pain at training and the long hours on the beach is all worth it when you get to the end of the season and you've got the biggest smile on your face from seeing all you friends from around the country at Aussies there to race and celebrate another summer of surf complete.

What do you get up to in the off season in regards to lifesaving?

These days my off season is taken up with travelling overseas to race world cups and world championships in kayaking where I have the desire to one day go to the Olympics, but the limited time I'm at home on a break you'll find me catching up with friends having a coffee or down at the beach surfing.

Lachlan Tame, Gordon Jones and Riley Fitzsimmons after their open ski relay victory.

Photo credit: Harvpix.

Mon 27 Apr 2015