Saving lives at Papamoa Beach and performing with style at surf carnivals is a rite of passage for the Cowdrey boys.

Ross, 22, Scott, 21, Jake, 19, and Mitch, 17, are all lifeguards at the Papamoa Surf Lifesaving Club, where parents Alisa and Dave are long-time guards and administrators.

The family had some good news to celebrate this month with Scott and Mitch selected in New Zealand teams to compete at international competitions.

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Scott was named in the Sanyo Cup team to compete against teams from Australia, United States, Britain, Netherlands, South Africa, Hong Kong and Japan in Fukuoka in June, while Mitch made the Junior Black Fins to contest the Lifesaving World Championships in Adelaide in November.

Scott won a bronze medal representing New Zealand at the 2016 ISA World Standup Paddle and Paddleboard Championship in Fiji but this is his first selection in an international beach-based event.

He is one of 10 athletes, including Murdoch Finch from Omanu, named for Japan.

"Board paddling is my specialty and I do ski races as well but boards are the main one. It is the one I have always enjoyed and the one I found myself best at," Scott said.

"Quite a few of my mates have been the last few years and I am starting to gather some information about Japan and going there is going to be a wicked trip.

"It is somewhere I have always wanted to go and to get to go there in a New Zealand team is awesome, plus in the team that is selected there are a lot of good-quality athletes.

"I am looking forward to racing with them. It will be a big learning curve for sure and a very cool experience."

Mitch is joined in the Black Fins by team coach Matt Cairns and Aidan Smith from Papamoa plus Mount Maunganui clubbies Declan Dempster, Lochlainn O'Connor and Tessa Bradley.


Last year representing the New Zealand Youth team he won first overall for board at the International Surf Rescue Challenge held at Mount Maunganui.

"Making the international challenge last season was a good stepping-stone and from there it was always an end goal to go to worlds. I have had a goal to gain a world championship for a few years so have just been working away," Mitch said.

"I am pretty similar to Scott. Our strongest legs are both board. That comes down a lot to how we get to train together. That's what we enjoy the most and where we push each other the most in the board. I also do some beach events like sprints and water stuff."

Talk to any surf lifesaver who competes in surf sports events and they all tell the same story. The sports side is a useful and fun sideline to what they are trained to do — saving lives at the beach.

"The main reason we do is it for the lifeguarding side of things. Me and Scott have both done that as a paid job and volunteered since we were 14. We love it and have made a job out of it," Mitch said.