Fuelling Talented Teenagers a Big Job

Tacking Point Surf Life Saving Club’s Ryan Carroll is 6ft 3inches with size 13 feet and still growing. At his second NSW Open Surf Life Saving Championships on the Central Coast the talented lifesaver with fire in his belly stood on the podium for one gold and two silver medal presentations.

The one he wanted most was a trifecta in the ironman event but Matthew Sperring from Warilla-Barrack Point proved the bugbear, Carroll was runner up to the South Coast competitor in two water events.

Younger sister Jess also competed over the three day series, the carnival experience ideal for measuring herself against athletes in her age bracket and a good opportunity to catch up with mates.

Both Ryan and Jess wants to go as high as possible in the sport, with their dream destination being the Nutri-Grain Ironman Series.

Their Tacking Point coach for the past eight years, Dave Rickwood, says the teenagers have been great to work with and reckons Ryan in particular “has that bit of mongrel in him you need to go all the way.”

Most athletes have surf life saving in their blood. Jess and Ryan however are first generation, but so committed are their parents Jody and Jason that the family moved to Kingscliff recently to give the two teenagers better access to the best coaches and mentors on either side of the NSW/Qld border.

“We are the taxi,” laughs Jody. “It’s a big commitment but we wanted to give them a red hot go,” added Jason.

The sacrifice the family is making is appreciated by Ryan and Jess who want it noted their parents“are the best ever!”

The pair is enjoying their last season representing Tacking Point and training with Northcliffe SLSC while they decide which club to settle at. Logistically it means 12 sessions per week driving 40 minutes each time to training, which has become an opportunity for schoolwork.

“The petrol bill is on par with the food bill…through the roof!” says dad Jason who is a naturopath and keeps plenty of homemade protein shakes and fruit and vegetables on hand for the kids.

Ryan eats 13 Weetbix for breakfast and his sister eats six. When they dine out Ryan needs two adult size meals and then polishes off anything left on others’ plates in order fill up his tall frame.

Ryan and Jess agree training and competing has brought them closer but like any sibling relationship there are niggles. Jess laughs that “Ryan sticks his tongue out when he’s concentrating and clomps down the stairs and wakes her up.” Ryan can’t name a particular habit that gets his goat, “she’s alright” he says graciously.

Photograph: It's all in the family - Ryan and Jess Carroll pose for the cameras at the 2015 NSW Surf Life Saving Open Championship.

Credit: Suzanne Macphillamy/SLSNSW

Thu 19 Mar 2015