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It was a successful trip for a group of dedicated NSW surf lifesavers who have recently returned from a trip across the Tasman as part of the annual Lifesaving Exchange Program where they were put through their paces alongside some of New Zealand’s finest lifeguards.

The trip was an opportunity is for volunteer surf lifesavers to experience patrolling in a totally different environment and also to share skills and knowledge that both parties could use into the future, and is an important development opportunity within NSW Surf Life Saving.

Eighteen-year-old Lewis Warne (Cudgen Headland), and twenty-one-year-old Hamish Christie (Long Reef) were selected as the representatives for the New Zealand tour after impressing at the City/Country Program held earlier this year.

Additionally Nixy Krite and Damien Woods were selected to further their skills as facilitators and joined the two participants on the trip.

Throughout the program the touring lifesavers visited emergency services, a local surf club, and participated in extensive rescue and scenario training including working on rocks and caves.

All the lifesavers involved returned with a lifetime of memories and new skills that they can take back to their club.

“My highlight of the New Zealand trip had to be all the rock and cave work we did. Living in Northern NSW we don't practice any rock work so to be given the opportunity to do this in massive swell with some of the most knowledgeable lifeguards in the world was a privilege and by far the highlight of the trip,” said Lewis Warne.

Hamish Christie also found the cave work challenging, but rewarding.

“I think the best part of that experience was that I was able to feel confident that even though I was completely out of my comfort zone I was able to push through it and get through the challenge of the cave,” he said.

Facilitator Damien Woods enjoyed the experience of working with their New Zealand counterparts saying it motivated him to encourage his club’s younger members to take on leadership roles within surf life saving.

“The New Zealand professional lifeguards and volunteers take the role very seriously and have a lot of pride in what they do.  Listening to younger members discuss how their peers respect what they do with their clubs is real positive, and is inspiring for us to take back to our clubs,” he said.

While Nixy Krite said the program inspired her to share her new skills and knowledge with lifesavers around the state.

“As a facilitator on this program I was pushed out of my comfort zone and put in some tricky situations that allowed me to recognize my strengths and opportunities as not only a facilitator but as a lifesaver.

“I am hoping to continue to share my skills with our future leaders across the state and help them become the best they can be,” she said.

The 2018 New Zealand Lifeguard Exchange Tour was hosted at Bethells Beach Auckland, and took place on 10th -11th March 2018

To read reflections from the trip please click here


Tuesday 20 March 2018