THE Whakatane Surf Life Saving Club is preparing to turn out a new batch of lifeguards with its annual Lifeguard Award training to get under way next week.

But for the first time this year, the training will include an option for people who don’t really enjoy getting wet.

Instructor and committee member Michelle Cossey says the training for the new initiative, Patrol Support, is designed for those who may not like being in the sea, but who wish to support the club by assisting with its lifeguard patrols.

She says qualifying to be part of Patrol Support will require the same training process as that of a lifeguard, but “minus the water component”.

“Lifeguard patrols involve people carrying out various roles and trained Patrol Support members will be able to carry out all of these tasks except the actual water rescues.”

“There’ve been calls for such a role to be available,” Michelle says. “Sometimes that’s from an individual who wants to help, but who doesn’t like the water, and sometimes it’s from a family who perhaps have several members who are trained lifeguards that patrol over the summer. It gives other family members who maybe don’t like to swim, the opportunity to be involved. Some people just want to be part of the environment.”

She says the upcoming course, which begins on September 4, will cater for both options.

Offered each year by the club, the 12-session programme, which typically runs over runs over an eight-week period, covers all facets of lifeguarding, with successful participants leaving the course fully qualified as a surf lifeguard or, this year, a patrol supporter.

Components of the course include first aid – two days of training in skills specific to beach lifeguarding – rescues, identifying rips, signals and communication, health and safety, and various aspects of beach and surf environments.

The course also includes fitness, Michelle says, with participants required to swim 400 metres in under nine minutes, and to complete a 600-metre run-swim-run exercise in under eight minutes, to pass.

“People discover pretty early on whether they’re fit enough to do that, and that’s good, because if they’re not, they’ll have time to work on it”.

“It’s a fantastic course,” she says. “I think it sets people up for a lot of things. Young people can use the qualification to help them with things like securing positions with Camp America, or later on, using it to become a paid lifeguard somewhere. What better summer job could you have? And you learn a lot about yourself in the process too. It’s a good confidence builder.”

While some training sessions are held at the town pools, Michelle says the majority of the course,which includes both practical and theory components, takes place at the surf club at Ohope. High school students are able to earn NCEA credits for the course’s first aid component.

“Lifeguard training is a natural progression for many of our members, some of whom will have been with the club for several years by the time they’re 14,” the minimum lifeguard training age. “But we also get people who’ve not been involved with the club at all who are just keen to help provide a lifeguard service to the community.”

Commencing September 4, the lifeguard training course is expected to culminate on November 10. Training sessions take place at various times in an effort to accommodate other commitments participants may have.

People interested in registering are advised to do so as soon as possible by emailing mattperfect@icloud.com or by phoning Matt, on 027 2460563.

Growing into lifeguard role

AT the age of 15, Alice Blakeway has already accrued a strong history with the Whakatane Surf Life Saving Club.

“I’ve been in surf club since I was five,” says Alice, who achieved a number of firsts last year, completing her Lifeguard Award training, undertaking her first patrols as a qualified lifeguard and experiencing her first rescue.

“I wasn’t in the water,” Alice says. “I was doing communications, radioing information through to the emergency services.” But it was a chance to test her newly acquired rescue skills and knowledge and she says her training definitely paid off.

“The lifeguard award training was excellent,” she says. “You learn so much and it’s also social and fun.” But she says you need to be ready for it. “You have to be prepared and committed, but once you’ve got that sorted it’s not too hard.”

Alice had spent the previous two years in the club as a rookie, the surf club programme designed for 12- and 13-year-olds who are heading toward their lifeguard award training.

Rookies learn many of the components of the training, though are not yet qualified to perform rescues. Alice says it provides a strong foundation. “I was pretty well prepared for the training, but some people also come and do it without having been in surf club at all.

We get all kinds of people doing it, lots of different ages.”

For Alice, the progression to becoming a trained lifeguard was something of a foregone conclusion. “My mother and brother were already lifeguards, and my father is a former coach and now officiates at surf club competitions. It was just a matter of time.”

Alice also took on a new role in the club last season, becoming a coach of the Sand Crabs (the Surf Life Saving club’s youngest recruits) and taking full responsibility for the five-year-olds. Her ability to do so, she says, is an example of the skills she has gathered through her surf club involvement, physical and practical skills, and more personal ones.

“Surf club has taught me a lot of things and I’ve gained a lot from it. A lot of confidence, a lot of knowledge of how I work best. I feel proud to wear the uniform and be on patrol because I know I’ve worked hard for it. And aside from that, it’s just nice to be at the beach watching families having fun and being part of keeping them safe.”

Clocking up guarding hours

IT’S hard to work out how Matthew Reihana-Asquith fits commitments to the Whakatane Surf Life Saving Club into his already busy sporting schedule. He joined the surf club three years ago, and last year, successfully qualified as a lifeguard.

Matthew sees surf lifesaving as complementary to his primary sport as a competitive kayaker, building on many of the same skills and contributing considerably to his fitness level.

“And I really enjoy it,” he says. “I spent two years as a rookie helping out where I could and just doing my part. Everyone needs to play a role at surf club. And last year, I sat my lifeguard award.”

The 15-year-old is also a committee member of Awakeri Badminton Club, assisting with events and sometimes helping to coach. He plays football, is a former swimming club member and is preparing for a rugby trip to America although he no longer plays the sport.

“I was playing rugby at the time it all started,” he says. “And I’ve stayed involved with fundraising for the trip ever since”. Bobby calves, haymaking, marshalling at motocross events and delivering firewood are some of his fundraising activities.“I’m still going on the trip on a play-if-needed basis.”

Matthew spent his first summer as a qualified lifeguard patroller last year, and by the end of the summer, had earned the club award for providing the most patrolling hours of any member. With a minimum requirement of 24 voluntary patrolled hours, and the club average 48, Matthew racked up a whopping 82.5 hours.

His involvement with the surf club and, specifically, with his lifeguard training, has brought a number of personal benefits. “It’s not just the physical skills. I learnt a lot about leadership and working as a team, about working with people who are very different to myself.”

“It’s also provided me with opportunities to meet a lot of people and do things I would never have got to do, or had the confidence to do, otherwise.”

Matthew will undertake a short lifeguard refresher course this year, an annual requirement of all trained lifeguards.

Growing into lifeguard role

AT the age of 15, Alice Blakeway has already accrued a strong history with the Whakatane Surf Life Saving Club.

“I’ve been in surf club since I was five,” says Alice, who achieved a number of firsts last year, completing her Lifeguard Award training, undertaking her first patrols as a qualified lifeguard and experiencing her first rescue.

“I wasn’t in the water,” Alice says. “I was doing communications, radioing information through to the emergency services.” But it was a chance to test her newly acquired rescue skills and knowledge and she says her training definitely paid off.

“The lifeguard award training was excellent,” she says. “You learn so much and it’s also social and fun.” But she says you need to be ready for it. “You have to be prepared and committed, but once you’ve got that sorted it’s not too hard.”

Alice had spent the previous two years in the club as a rookie, the surf club programme designed for 12- and 13-year-olds who are heading toward their lifeguard award training.

Rookies learn many of the components of the training, though are not yet qualified to perform rescues. Alice says it provides a strong foundation. “I was pretty well prepared for the training, but some people also come and do it without having been in surf club at all.

We get all kinds of people doing it, lots of different ages.”

For Alice, the progression to becoming a trained lifeguard was something of a foregone conclusion. “My mother and brother were already lifeguards, and my father is a former coach and now officiates at surf club competitions. It was just a matter of time.”

Alice also took on a new role in the club last season, becoming a coach of the Sand Crabs (the Surf Life Saving club’s youngest recruits) and taking full responsibility for the five-year-olds. Her ability to do so, she says, is an example of the skills she has gathered through her surf club involvement, physical and practical skills, and more personal ones.

“Surf club has taught me a lot of things and I’ve gained a lot from it. A lot of confidence, a lot of knowledge of how I work best. I feel proud to wear the uniform and be on patrol because I know I’ve worked hard for it. And aside from that, it’s just nice to be at the beach watching families having fun and being part of keeping them safe.”