Papamoa surf lifeguard Natalie Peat, 18, was named under-19 sportswoman, open sportswoman and international sportsperson at the 2013 BOP/Coromandel Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence. Over the summer she won three under-20 world titles and set a youth world record at the World Championships in Adelaide in April and won two gold medals at the Australian Pool Championships in August. We talked to her about what it takes to get to the top.
1 How did you get into surf lifesaving?
My mum first signed me up to the Papamoa Surf Club when I was 9. Initially I was really scared and would only ever go along to Nippers if both my sisters were with me but I managed to grow out of that. Haven't looked back since.
2 What has kept you doing it since then?
I love being part of the Papamoa Surf Club and its outstanding training squad and coaching programme, and the people there are like my second family. It's such an awesome environment to be in I get to spend my whole summer at the beach.
3 How often do you train and what does training consist of?
Training varies between the summer and winter months but currently I am training 14 times a week. Seven swim sessions, two gym sessions, two running sessions and three craft (board and ski) sessions at the beach. I train 11 months of the year.
4 What is your favourite aspect of surf lifesaving competitions and why?
My favourite part of racing is that no two competitions are ever the same. You face different conditions and you can never predict the outcome of a race. The trick is to use the ocean and the environment to your advantage. I've come from third to first just from a lucky wave.
5 What is the most important skill you learn as a surf lifeguard?
Firstly, self-preservation, then surf awareness and surf safety followed by strong sense of community service. All this teaches you how to have loads of fun at the beach in a safe and fun way. Plus, social skills as you're always with family or friends or even new friends.
6 Apart from competing what else do you do as part of the Papamoa Club?
Every summer I do around 30 patrol hours as a volunteer guard over the weekends. I also coach the beginner and intermediate squads (10 to 14-year-olds) during the weekdays over summer and teach them vital competition and surf survival skills. Over winter I help coach the junior squad in pool rescue events.
7 You've broken a number of records and won a number of competitions and awards this year. What were you expecting going into the season?
I definitely reached and achieved the goals that I set before the season. I was happy to compete so well internationally and that gave me a lot of confidence. When you train in a structured and professional environment like I do, between me and my coach, nothing is left to chance.
8 What does that mean for next season?
It's all about building on my success from last season and putting in the hard yards at training to head into this season faster, fitter and stronger. I've got some big competitions again this year so it's about stepping up at those, especially in the international competitions.
9 What are your goals within the sport?
My biggest goal at the moment is to be picked in the Open New Zealand Team for the World Championships in 2014 which would be an amazing opportunity. There is also a professional Iron Woman series in Australia which would be awesome to compete in but that plan is a few years away, after rescue 2014.
10 What does the up and coming talent from the Papamoa club look like?
Underlying all our success is an integrated coaching programme that provides skill development at junior surf level and then skill-based programmes and a positive coaching environment that supports each athlete to achieve their potential. We are the top competitive club in the country across pool and beach events with our homegrown Te Puke and Papamoa talent.