Cronulla Family Has Salt Water In Veins

When Hon Cronulla SLSC Secretary Paul Larssen earned his long service status during the 2015/16 season he became the most recent member of his salt water loving family to reach the milestone.

All told the 5 members of the Larssen family; mother Carole, father Paul, and the three siblings Kari, Emma and Carl have combined for over 70 years of patrol experience on Cronulla Beach.

Kari and Emma were the first to dip their feet into the water.

“We joined Nippers later than a lot of our peers. I was in the U13s and Kari was in the 14s but we both really enjoyed it,” Emma Larssen said.

“My sister and I both got our Bronze Medallions in 1999 and our mother decided to go for hers at the same time as well because she was our Age Manager.”

The next in line to earn the traditional qualification was younger brother Carl who passed his course in 2002.

Despite four of the five family members being heavily involved in Surf Life Saving there was one hold out.

“Being an old Maroubra boy dad was not too fond of clubbies. I remember one carnival he finally agreed to come and watch us at Manly but he brought his long board and ended up spending the day surfing at North Steyne,” laughed Emma.

“In the end he crossed over to the dark side in 2006.”

Although each have had a different journey in lifesaving, the family share a common love of the water, with each contributing to the movement in their own individual way.

Carole has built up an impressive resume as a competitor; even teaming up with her daughter Emma at the recent State Championships at Ocean Beach – Umina to win a medal in the 110yrs+ Surf Teams and a fourth in the 30-34yrs Board Rescue.

One of her highlights was at the 2010 World Lifesaving Championships in Egypt where she won 9 gold medals and set a world record in the 55-59yrs 100m Manikin Tow with Fins. When she’s not competing she proudly completes patrol for Cronulla and also serves on the management committee of the Club.

“Having followed the kids around for so long and always being with them at training, I decided to give the competition side a go. I started with sprint and flags before gaining enough confidence to do board, swim and ski, which I had never done before. It’s been a great way to keep fit, meet new friends and be involved at an older age,” said Carole Larssen.

Paul has certainly made up for lost time. He’s proved to be a pretty handy competitor setting a world record in the 55-59yrs Male 100m Manikin Tow with Fins at the same meet as his wife. The days of being suspicious of clubbies has long gone with the father-of-three enthusiastically throwing himself into the lifesaving lifestyle.

“Once I understood the core values of the movement, I was more than happy to do my bit for the community as a volunteer. I also thoroughly enjoy the social side and camaraderie,” he said.

In 2015 Paul organised the inaugural Bate Bay Ball that brought together all four Sutherland Shire cubs to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Aussies and to mark the Centenary of Anzac.

As the oldest sibling of the clan Kari remains is an enthusiastic competitor and a keen patrolling member. Work commitments prevented her from suiting up at this year’s State Championships, but she is training and preparing for the World Championships later this year. Kari was the Patrol Person of the Year last season and captains Patrol 5 which won the Cronulla Patrol Competition earlier this season.

Although a move into shift work ended Carl’s competing days, he never-the-less has remained a committed patrolling member and IRB driver. He was recognised by the club for achieving 5 consecutive years of 100% patrol attendance and in three of those seasons he was also a patrol captain.

“Being involved in surf club and getting down to the beach is a good way to relax and unwind. Cronulla has to be one of the best spots in the world and it’s great being able to come down for a swim or paddle with friends and family,” said Carl Larssen.

Emma was the Hon Secretary of Cronulla SLSC back in 2009/10 but stood down from the position when she was offered a contract to work in Bali with Indonesian Life Saving. She urged her father to take on the position with the promise it would “be only ten months!” Five years later and her dad remains in the position.

Throughout her time in Indonesia Emma was involved in the setting up of 3 Nipper programs, trained hundreds of lifeguards and employees in first aid, and coached the Indonesian and Bali teams that attended the World Championships as well as a Bali team that competed at The Aussies in 2015.

“Living and working in Bali was such a great experience and I really enjoyed being able to contribute to surf lifesaving in the communities over there. To see the smiles on the kids’ faces and the joy they got from taking part in Nippers was so rewarding and hopefully something that will continue for the years to come,” she said.

It’s clear that for the Larssen’s the beach and lifesaving will always play an important role in their lives.

This ongoing passion was eloquently summed up by Kari Larssen.

“Life is busy and you may not be able to catch up all the time but it’s nice that we always get to hang out and patrol together as a family.”

And for this patrolling family, the ocean will never be too far away.

Photograph - The Larssen family on patrol at Cronulla Beach - Emma, Carl, Kari, Carole, and Paul. Supplied.

Thu 2 Jun 2016