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Meet real surf lifesavers of all ages and hear their stories.

Transcript

Don: I’m Don Marsh. I’m from Carlton Park Surf Life Saving Club in southern Tasmania.

Pat: My name is Pat Kidner. I have been a member of North Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club in Western Australia for 61 years.

Phil: I am Phil McGibbon of the Portland Surf Life Saving Club in Victoria.

Kristy: My name is Kristy Munroe. I am a member of Alexandra Headland Surf Club on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

John: I am John Brown. I’m currently a member of the Grange Surf Life Saving Club and the Chiton Rocks Club in Adelaide.

Khy: My name is Khy Whitford. I am 11 and I go to Mollymook Surf Life Saving Club.

Keesha: My name is Keesha Whitford and I attend Mollymook Surf Life Saving Club and go to Ulladulla High School.

Why join? 0:27

Listen to Kristy Munroe, Don Marsh, Keesha Whitford and Phil McGibbon talk about why they joined surf livesaving.

Transcript

Kristy: The thing that I enjoy most about lifesaving is probably the lifestyle. Living next to the beach, and going to the beach for training every single day. I think it’s also the health and well-being aspect of lifesaving that I enjoy.

Don: I had a swimming background and water-polo, and I was always interested in the ocean as a very young child.

Keesha: Most of my family was involved and I wanted to build my confidence in the water.

Phil: I got sick and tired of chasing that little red ball, I thought there must be something better than that.

Training 0:56

Listen to Kristy Munroe, Don Marsh, Pat Kidner and John Brown talk about the training involved in surf lifesaving.

Transcript

Kristy: I can’t really remember my life before I was training. I’m really training, I guess, at the level that a professional athlete would be – twice to three times a day. It is about 10 to 12 sessions a week and it is mixed up between swimming, board, ski, run and gym sessions.

Don: Each year each patrolling surf lifesaver is required to do an annual proficiency test. So really, that is a matter of ensuring that physically you are capable of doing it, and also that your rescue techniques are brought up to date.

Pat: We had to have a very good knowledge of first aid and we had to be able to use the Eve Rocker resuscitation drill to perfection.

John: We used the reel and line and the hardest part of the examination was to go through each movement where you were patient, and you was belt-man and lines-man, and you had to go through every particular role without a break.

Patrol 0:57

Listen to what Don Marsh, Phil McGibbon, Keesha Whitford, John Brown and Pat Kidner have to say about patrolling the beach.

Transcript

Don: Patrolling the beach for me really is a community service. On the out-going tide, you really have to be on your mark because as the tide goes out, it becomes very rippy, and patrolling members need to observe quite closely.

Phil: You have to be involved in patrols because that is what lifesaving is all about to start with.

Keesha: On a regular patrol day we start at about quarter to nine. We get our equipment ready, all the flags and everything and take them down to the beach. After we have set up the flags, we have to stand guard, people are moving around, and we always have to watch out to sea.

John: The equipment is the priority item to be put on the beach, and the location of your flags, obviously.

Pat: They’re always out there and it gives you much more confidence. I know, I don’t like to swim unless there is a patrol on the weekends.

Rescue 1:28

Listen to John Brown, Don Marsh and Kristy Munroe share their experiences of rescue operations.

Transcript

Don: Patrolling the beach for me really is a community service. On the out-going tide, you really have to be on your mark because as the tide goes out, it becomes very rippy, and patrolling members need to observe quite closely.

Phil: You have to be involved in patrols because that is what lifesaving is all about to start with.

Keesha: On a regular patrol day we start at about quarter to nine. We get our equipment ready, all the flags and everything and take them down to the beach. After we have set up the flags, we have to stand guard, people are moving around, and we always have to watch out to sea.

John: The equipment is the priority item to be put on the beach, and the location of your flags, obviously.

Pat: They’re always out there and it gives you much more confidence. I know, I don’t like to swim unless there is a patrol on the weekends.

Competition 1:35

Listen to Kristy Munroe, Phil McGibbon, Don Marsh, Khy Whitford and Pat Kidner have to say about the thrill of the carnival.

Transcript

Kristy: You don’t really notice the crowd, no matter how loud or close they can be. You are pretty much focussed on what you are doing and how you are feeling and what you have got coming up next. Sometimes the competitors around you can be a bit of a distraction, but I think that is part of the training and you learn to block them out a little bit, and sort of pretend that you are the only person there racing.

Phil: When I first became involved as a commentator – surf carnivals were rather small; especially in Victoria. The areas would cover beach events – which was beach sprints, beach relays, there would be belt races, R&R, which is Rescue and Resuscitation, then there are ski events and board events.

Don: My favourite event these days – I’d almost say I am an iron-man specialist. It is challenging. You have got the luck of the surf as well as competing against other competitors.

Khy: My mum and dad compete in different events. I like to watch them because they are both good inspirations to me and they love my events as much as I do.

Pat: I was a member of the march-past team. That was a thrill. We’d go down two nights a week training. It gave you a sense of competition to be in the march-past. I was in the belt; my best friend was carrying the banner; and we all got along so well. It was a real achievement, I thought, to be in the march-past.

Khy: My favourite events would have to be the sprint and the flags because they are really fun.

Sharks 1:02

Listen to Phil McGibbon, Pat Kidner and Kristy Munroe tell stories about sharks in the surf.

Transcript

Phil: I’m often asked whether there are sharks in the water, particularly at my beach. Yes there probably are – I’ve never come across one, I don’t want to go down and see one but you always have to be aware in surf lifesaving there may be some danger in the water.

Pat: I worry about sharks when I go swimming because we had a shark fatality right in the area where we’ve always swum. I was going down to the beach at this stage and I could see all the police cars, people coming from everywhere and when I got there I found out there had been a shark attack which was very sad.

Kristy: Sharks are probably the last thing on my mind actually when I am competing. Generally it is either the surf conditions or the other competitors that you think of first. It is funny – a lot of people who aren’t involved with the ocean, often think that sharks would be one of the greatest fears. I think from all the times that I have spent in the ocean, probably every day for the last nearly 20 years, I have only seen a shark twice.

Surf culture 0:35

Listen to John Brown and Don Marsh tell stories about surf culture in Australia.

Transcript

John Brown: When balsa became the material of use surfing took off. A little later we had Gidget and all that sort of carry on and surfing music and surfing movies, etc, etc. Now as it became so popular people outside of surf clubs started buying surfboards.

Don Marsh: The reality is that many of the top surfers have come through the junior movement of surf lifesaving and have chosen to go down a particular track. A large number of surf lifesavers are very competent board riders.

Women 1:06

Listen to John Brown, Pat Kidner and Phil McGibbon comment on women and surf lifesaving.

Transcript

John: Women have always been around the surf clubs in one function or another. But women actually coming in as members, which I think occurred around about 1980 was something a lot of males ... they had trouble handling it.

Pat: We were tolerated but not recognised. Everything we did, we did on our own, off our own bat, but North Cottesloe Surf Club was wonderful with us. They really, really did everything they could for us. We were their main-stay, they could never have managed without us.

Phil: Women, I believe, should have been full members of lifesaving many years before they became full members. It doesn’t matter who saves a person, as long as that person is rescued.

John: The tradition of boat-rowing – I don’t believe there is anything else in Australia that kind of matches the sort of macho attitudes that go along with boat-rowing, however in recent years the girls are actually showing some of the guys how to do it.

Young people 0:18

Listen to Phil McGibbon, Kristy Munroe, Pat Kidner, Don Marsh and Keesha Whitford talk about young people and surf livesaving.

Transcript

Phil: I’ve often felt that to encourage young people to become involved in surf lifesaving is one of the main reasons that surf lifesaving continues to operate. Every member of every club should be out there trying to recruit people, because it is not just doing the lifesaving on the beach that counts, it is doing the lifesaving off the beach.

Kristy: I begun Nippers being terrified of the surf, and was up until about 12 or 13. I only ever competed in the beach events and the water events were sort of a later thing in my career.

Pat: My husband was such a keen surfer that when my two boys were born, he’d come to pick me up at the hospital and he would take the boys out of the car. One boy, one at a time and dangle his feet in the water so that he’d be a good swimmer for North Cottesloe.

Don: The other big thrill I have had is the development of younger people in the movement – not only providing them with the skills that they need to become proficient surf lifesavers, but also developing them as people and providing them with some life skills.

Keesha: I now teach younger children and nippers. I’m now helping with water safety – when people used to help me do that I was very appreciative.

One big family 1:20

Hear what Don Marsh, John Brown, Kristy Munroe and Pat Kidner have to say about the surf livesaving movement.

Transcript

Don: To me, the surf lifesaving movement is like one big family. I have lived and worked both overseas and in other parts of Australia and it has probably been the thing that has made it the easiest thing for me to adapt to a new environment, and a new location is to get involved, straight away, with the surf lifesavers – the local surf lifesavers.

John: You could travel from club to club; state to state; take your swag ... when we got wheels and we started to move around with surfboards ... introduce yourself at a club – you would sleep either in the boatshed, or up on the floor in the hall, and it was really a fantastic opportunity for young people in the ’50s to be able to do that.

Kristy: Once you sort of become involved in a surf lifesaving club, it is a hard thing to walk away from, apart from the competition aspect of it, the organisation itself is sort of like an extended family. It has been to me, once you got down to the surf club, you will always see someone that you know, and wherever you travel along the coastline of Australia, or other countries.

Pat: I think the most enjoyable thing about club life was the camaraderie ... feeling as if you’re doing something worthwhile; and friendships we formed.

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