Surf lifesaving: Western Bay on a wave of success

By Peter White


The 2012-2013 surf lifesaving season has been an unforgettable triumph for Western Bay of Plenty surf clubs, with the area reigning supreme as New Zealand's most successful region.

Scott Bicknell, club development officer for Bay of Plenty Surf Life Saving, says his local area has done exceptionally well across all levels.

"At the Oceans under-14 championships four of the top seven clubs were from the Bay of Plenty, with Papamoa first, Mount third and Omanu in sixth.

"The surf nationals result was even better than the Oceans for us. In terms of the Masters, we had Omanu first, Mount second, Pap third, and Whakatane in fifth, so we absolutely dominated that event.

"In the seniors, Mount were first and Pap were second and they smashed it. The next best were Red Beach and both our clubs doubled their points. Omanu were in fourth so we are definitely dominating the scene.

"A lot of clubs have been asking questions about how we did so well and part of that is what we offered in events in the build-up.

Each of the three clubs have coaches now and I think we are just starting to churn into what we really need to do and they are getting really good at that.

"They are also holding on to their athletes now and have been busy creating lots of depth in the sport. We are definitely becoming the forefront of the sport here."

Bicknell says success in the younger ages is down to the community involvement in the sport and how the connection with the community here is just so strong. "The volunteers also play a huge part with the hours they put in to the effort those clubs put into their junior programmes."

Club and team success has been replicated with individual awards and recognition at national and international levels.There are seven young athletes in the NZ Development squad and another four in the World Championship squad.

"The likes of Ben Cochrane, Ben Johnston, Jessica Miller, Dannielle O'Connor, Caitlin Procter, Sam Shergold and Katie Wilson are very, very strong competitors," said Bicknell.

"At the World Championships you have Olympic champion Lisa Carrington, Ironman champion Max Beattie, Kodi Harman and Natalie Peat, who all were bloody good. The depth we have is pretty overwhelming."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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