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After packing the essential swimmers, goggles, training equipment and passports, the NSW U18 Pool Rescue Development team even had room in their luggage for optimism as they gathered at Sydney International Airport on Wednesday morning for their flight to New Zealand.

The 10-strong-team will fly across the Tasman to compete at the 2016 New Zealand Pool Rescue Championships as part of an annual tour that has done much to accelerate the development of the state’s most talented pool athletes.

Among the graduates from the 2015 tour were Jemma Smith (Umina SLSC), Rachel Wood (Umina SLSC), Callum Lowe-Griffiths (Queenscliff SLSC), and Ethan Garland (North Cronulla SLSC).

All four athletes represented Australia in the all-conquering Youth Team at the 2016 World Life Saving Championships in The Netherlands with this year’s tour being the first stepping stone on the journey to Rescue 2018 for these talented teenagers.

At the helm of the team this year on her first tour as coach will be Ela Heiniger who got her own first taste on the international circuit as a competitor on the New Zealand tour several seasons ago.

The experienced pool and surf competitor is looking forward to the challenge of sharing her experiences.

“The New Zealanders are really good in the pool and they are world champions for a reason so it’s a wonderful chance for our athletes to race against the best in the world on their home turf.

“I’m not going to put any expectations on our team but I do believe there is a lot of potential there and a chance to come home with some medals,” said Heiniger.

As a rookie coach Heiniger said she is still working on her own style but she need not look far for inspiration.

“I truly love this sport and I want to give back and ensure that others had the same opportunities others have had. That’s what attracted me to coaching, and I’ve been really lucky I’ve had some great coaches over the years. Andrew Bowden and Tim Schofield in particular are positive influences, and I have learned a lot from them.

“I see my role as making sure the athletes are able to compete to the best of their ability on the day. I can share my experiences with them but I’m not going to change their techniques or anything as that’s something they can work on with their individual coaches who have all done a fantastic job with preparing them.

“At the end of the day if they compete to the best of their ability and are happy with their performance that is the most important thing,” Heiniger said.

The 2016 team hail from several clubs spread across the state and this excites the coach.

“It’s so exciting to see how much talent there is in NSW and I believe it’s one of the youngest teams we’ve had touring in some time. Some of the skills you develop in Pool Rescue can certainly improve your skills in the ocean.

“I think these days to be considered for further honours you have to be versatile and be able to do both. The athletes in this team are certainly capable of that and as I said to them during training you just never know how far Surf Life Saving can take you.

The 2016 NSW U18 Pool Rescue Development team will be in action from Friday 7 – Saturday 9 October.

2016 NSW Pool Rescue Development Team:

Keeley Booth - Avoca Beach SLSC

Jack Curran - Caves Beach SLSC

Emily Doyle – Manly LSC

Timothy Ford – Cronulla SLSC

Gabrielle Kay - Byron Bay SLSC

Bailey Proud – Redhead SLSC

Alexandra Smiroldo – Bulli SLSC

Matthew Sperring - Warilla Barrack-Point SLSC

Kurt Stavrou – Wanda SLSC

Anthea Warne - Cudgen Headland SLSC

Team Management:

Head Coach - Ela Heiniger (Byron Bay SLSC)

Team Manager - Blake McCrindle (Wanda SLSC)

Team Chaperone - Shelley Smith (Ocean Beach/Umina SLSC)


Wednesday 5 October 2016