Move over Maverick, Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) is excited to reveal this year’s candidates for the surf lifeguard’s equivalent of ‘Top Gun’.
While there won’t be any fighter jets involved, the National Lifeguard School represents the pinnacle of training for the country’s fastest, fittest, and most committed surf lifeguards.
Belinda Slement, SLSNZ’s Education Manager, said, “This is as high as it gets for our surf lifeguards. Following an intensive three-day programme, they will be the ones with the skills and knowledge to direct their patrol members when challenging situations happen and when lives are on the line.”
This year, SLSNZ selected 16 surf lifeguards. They had to be 18 years of age and meet a vast list of prerequisites, including swimming 800 metres in under 14 minutes, and running three kilometres in under 20 minutes. They also needed to be experienced inflatable rescue boat drivers, hold first aid, and be a Patrol Captain.
Slement said, “The surf lifeguards had to be in great mental and physical shape to make it through the application process. It’s tough, especially the 800-metre swim. It’s a significant distance, and they would have had to do a huge amount of training to meet this target. For many, this is where they face challenges. However, being able to complete this swim is necessary because the National Lifeguard School is intense, and we need to ensure they’re ready to face a variety of complex lifesaving situations which will be thrown their way.”
The school will run from 30 November until 3 December at Waihi Beach, with all candidates receiving SLSNZ’s highest surf lifeguard qualification – the Advanced Lifeguard Award.
“They’ll be taught theory and practical skills. We’ll also recreate some of the more difficult and demanding emergency situations surf lifeguards can face, including mass rescue scenarios, advanced first aid, patient care, search and rescue operations, and advanced rock rescues.”
Candidates will be supported by seven instructors and four mentors who will teach and guide them through the advanced lifesaving skills they will learn.
“Sadly, every season, our surf lifeguards respond to serious incidents which can result in a fatality. Our aim is to equip these surf lifeguards with the right arsenal, so they can respond effectively. We want them to be leaders in their field with exceptional communication skills, tools to stay cool and calm under pressure, and the ability to adapt seamlessly to diverse coastal environments.”
With the patrol season now underway, these elite surf lifeguards will be welcomed on the beach – the ‘Top Guns’ of surf lifesaving – sharing their knowledge and ensuring beachgoers return home safely to their friends and whānau.