The 2018 Ladies Charity Lunch is gearing up to be one of the Bay's biggest events.

One of the main recipients of the Lunch proceeds is the Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service, which has started a major rebuild. We catch up with one of their lifeguards to find out how these proceeds will make a major different to saving lives on our beaches.

When people are in trouble in the water, they often panic.

Lifeguard Viv Conway has seen it time and again, and knows how easy it is for two people to die as a result.

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"Someone who is drowning will see you are floating in the water and they try to grab at you," Viv says. "It's okay, I have my tube, we know to expect that and we are trained for this. But you can see what would happen for other people who go in to rescue them ... that's how two people drown."

That's why training is so important, she says.

Viv, 22, is a member of Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service and has been a lifeguard since she was 14. The club is currently raising funds for their new building at Main Beach, as well as resources and ongoing training for their lifeguards.

The 2018 Ladies Charity Lunch in June is an important fundraiser for the club. The lifeguard service and Waipuna Hospice are recipients this year.

"Part of the funds go to equipment and training, there's lots of IRB training and upskilling.

It's invaluable. There is a lot of first aid training where we look at scenario after scenario and you get to practise on all the equipment.

Lifeguard Viv Conway, centre. Photo / Jamie Troughton Dscribe Media Services
Lifeguard Viv Conway, centre. Photo / Jamie Troughton Dscribe Media Services

"If we can put heaps of guards through first aid courses - the more upskilling we can do - it just means that we are better equipped and rescues happen more efficiently."

Viv came to lifeguarding late. She swam competitively while at Tauranga Girls' High School and was asked to participate in her first interschool surf lifesaving competition.

After that experience she was hooked on surf sports and lifeguarding.

She's been a swimmer and athlete, an instructor and lifeguard. She earned the top lifeguard Advanced Lifeguard Award through the National Lifeguard School about three years ago.

Viv has worked as a paid lifeguard at all Western Bay of Plenty beaches and continues to guard during the season at weekends (she's busy during the week running Instagram business Ace The Gram with friend Tasha Meys). She recently raced with Papamoa at the IRB championships.

She has rescued plenty of people. She recalls one particularly bad season where the lifeguards were constantly pulling people out of the water.

"There was a big storm, no surf but there was heaps of water moving at the bottom and we were doing rescue after rescue, all along the coast. That was for an entire season."

She doesn't take the ocean for granted for one minute.

"The ocean doesn't discriminate."