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It’s a long way from Nauru to Bondi Beach; over 4000 kilometres as the crow flies, but over the last fortnight a team of lifeguards from the tiny island nation have been in NSW perfecting their skills in an historic visit.

The touring group of three men and one woman are all professional lifeguards from the Nauru Lifeguard Service and are relishing the chance to experience life in a very different environment.

Since arriving in the country, the lifeguards have participated in first aid courses, worked on their beach management skills, completed Jet Ski training at Palm Beach under the tutelage of Australian lifeguards, and patrolled at North Steyne SLSC.

The visiting lifeguards will today (Saturday 3 December) experience a totally different world when they join volunteer surf lifesavers at Bondi Beach for a day’s patrol.

In 2015 fellow countryman Maska Hubert spent a day on patrol at the iconic beach, which was a surreal experience for the young man with beach attendance on that January day topping 20,000 – almost double his country’s population.

Following in his footsteps will be a challenge, but one that the group are very much looking forward to.

“Our patrol at North Steyne was really good. They were all very kind and open even though we found the water very cold much more than we were used to!” said Devlon Capelle a Nauruan lifeguard since the inception of the service in 2012.

“We are told Bondi will be very different with a bigger crowd but it should be fun to experience that.”

It’s been a steep learning curve for the visiting lifeguards but with an enthusiasm and desire to meet every challenge thrown at them they have enjoyed their time in Australia.

“It’s been a really good trip and a great chance for us to learn new things in a different environment. I enjoyed the Jet Ski training a lot,” said Devlon Capelle.

“I’ve been a lifeguard for 4 years and during that time have probably done 50 rescues. It’s been to see the differences in patrol and learn new things. I have noticed that patrols are very different. The radios and IRBS are a big change here. There is just so much more equipment and bigger patrols with more team members,” he said.

Surf Life Saving NSW Member Services Support Officer Steve Allan who is overseeing the visit said a key highlight of the program has been the rapid development in the skills of the touring lifeguards.

“I think they have gained confidence over the course of the program and they’ve learned so much that they can take back to the other lifeguards at home,” said Steve Allan.

Mr Allan who was involved in setting up the Nauru Lifeguard Service in 2012 said the organisation has achieved rapid growth since its inception and that it enjoys a stellar reputation at home.

“There’s now 23 fulltime lifeguards who are part of the government and their skills are improving all the time. This visit is an important milestone and is strengthening the relationship between NSW and Nauru.

“Patrolling Bond Beach is point of honour for these lifeguards and it’s something I know they’re looking forward to because it is world famous. Hopefully these visits can continue into the future because it is important we share our knowledge and experience, and eventually we can look at a reciprocal arrangement,” he said.

The Nauru lifeguards will jet out of Australia early next week.


Saturday 3 December 2016