A small south coast surf club believes it may have something no other club has - five mother and daughter combinations on the same patrol.
Over the last few seasons the Kiama Downs SLSC mums have inspired each other to train as lifesavers and get their Bronze Medallions and they are now inspiring a new generation in their daughters who have their Surf Rescue Certificates and patrolled this season.
Naida Guy is the wife of Patrol Captain Steven (Skip) Guy and she led the charge in encouraging more women to take up lifesaving and surf competition at the club. Along with her Australian gold medals in IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) racing, Naida is a life member of Kiama Downs and was involved in two major mass rescues this season as IRB driver, alongside some of the other women on her patrol.
When Naida and Skip took on managing the club’s Nippers program almost 10 years ago, there were no competitors other than the IRB racing team. Within two years, there were almost 50 Nippers training and regularly competing, and at least 10 women who were competing at Branch carnivals.
“When we took up IRB racing we met all these people, and I’m a big advocate for women being able to do just about anything. Both Skip and I began pushing for everyone to get their awards and just have a crack,” said Naida. “I’d got so much out of Surf Life Saving through my competition and just stuff where I didn’t think I’d ever be able to achieve things, and I did.”
The club now boasts the most women ever and the most mums and daughters who are patrolling. Two years ago the club had the biggest group of girls who had ever gone all the way through from U6s to U14s, with seven going on to patrol.
“It wasn’t a conscious effort from me to say ‘I want to have a patrol just with women’, it just happened that we had built an environment where we encouraged and supported women and it happened organically,” said Naida.
Naida and Skip say that encouraging more women to train as lifesavers was not always easy but that there is a role for everybody.
“I would tell them, it’s ok to tell us you’re scared or you’re not sure. We’re here to support you. We don’t expect you to go and do a rescue on a 100-kilogram man, but we need people to call the ambulance, and we need someone to operate the radio and we need someone to watch the flags,” she said.
Naida is now working with the South Coast Branch to help develop a support program to encourage and retain women in leadership positions.
“I have contacts in the Branch and my husband is amazing, but so many women in surf clubs put their hand up for a position, they do it for a year or two then say they will never go to another committee meeting. All I want is for my daughter to be able to say, ‘I want to be on a committee’.
“All these women need is some validation, to be able to see there is someone who has their back. If you’re having trouble, you’ve got a point of contact, here’s the information you need, here’s the support and don’t quit, we’re too valuable.”
Naida’s message to all the mums in Surf Life Saving on Mother’s Day is, “just believe in yourself and just do it. There’s nothing we can’t do, with the right support.”
Naida and Skip’s daughter, 14 year-old Macey, started Nippers in U6s and completed her Surf Rescue Certificate last season. While surf competition was her main sport, Macey and her older sister both now play a number of other sports, along with helping on patrol and with Nippers water safety at the club.
“I think it’s very impressive how much mum has achieved. She’s a big role model for a lot of people, and not just kids, adults too. I know a lot of people in our patrol look up to her for lots of things,” said Macey.
“She stuck with it and she’s very strong. She’s made our club so much better.”
While many mums will be enjoying breakfast in bed this Sunday, Naida’s Mother’s Day will be spent watching her daughters play AFL. She’s philosophical though, “usually I’d have Mother’s Day at an IRB carnival, so at least I’m with my kids this year.”
Patrol 5 Mothers and Daughters
Naida and Macey Guy, Sally and Lilly Gazzard, Cath and Ivy Gross-Jones, Amanda and Emma Trudget, Dawn and Amelia Weatherlake. Also Melissa and Lucy Thompson and Aimee, Maddie and Ada Heald (currently Nipper members).
Thursday 6 May 2021