Young Lifesavers Tour New Zealand

It was a week to remember for young lifesavers Mitchell Bath (Windang), and Madeleine Wheatley (Clovelly) who recently spent time across the Tasman as participants in the annual Surf Life Saving Exchange Program with New Zealand.

Twenty-one-year-old Bath and Wheatley,19, were selected for the program following their efforts during January’s City-Country Lifesaving Exchanges where they each spent time patrolling an unfamiliar beach.

The aim of the visit was to work with New Zealand’s Northern Region Life Saving body and gain international exposure to lifesaving techniques.

While in New Zealand the duo visited Muriwai Beach, Bethells Beach and Piha Beach and honed their lifesaving skills with the Kiwi’s finest.

“Visiting the Northern Region clubs in New Zealand was an incredible experience. Participating in the Intermediate Guard School course was really fun and I got to learn about different lifesaving techniques and methods such as those used in land-based night search,” Wheatley said.

“I particularly enjoyed learning how to negotiate the surf near rocks, body surfing with the local lifeguards and rock jumping.”

Heavy swells meant that they were unable to explore the famous caves and rock platforms at Bethells Beach, but it did mean they got to practice rescue scenarios in difficult conditions.

Bath’s goal is to eventually become a member of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter team and said that the trip has opened his eyes to new techniques that could be useful on his home beach.

“Going to New Zealand was definitely a new experience. One of the things I enjoyed most was being taught new and exciting things, especially at their beaches with the large swells,” he said.

“I will be encouraging other members at my surf club, to become familiar with the hazards of rescues around rocks and larger swells and encourage them to improve their knowledge on how to manage major incidents.”

Wheatley who has been a patrolling member at Clovelly for six seasons said she hopes to be able to apply the lessons learned from the trip to her own patrolling duties.

“Participating in the intermediate guard school increased my awareness of important lifesaving aspects such as different methods for board rescues and incorporating different scanning techniques into patrols,” she said.

“During the trip we also focused on the importance of image and professionalism within the organisation and during patrols, this increased my awareness of how my actions affect how the public perceives the organisation.”

Mitchell Bath and Madeleine Wheatley travelled to New Zealand from Thursday 5 to Monday 9 March 2015.

Thu 19 Mar 2015