The Black Fins, New Zealand's team for the Lifesaving World Championships in Adelaide from November 16, take an important step towards winning the world title for a fourth consecutive time when they assemble in Rotorua for a training camp this weekend.

Coach Jason Pocock is indicating there won't be much physical work over camp, held from tomorrow until Sunday. It will be, he says "an engagement camp, developing a team culture, letting members get to know each other".

It's this sense of nationalism in the team which, in Pocock's opinion, has been instrumental in the extraordinary success of the Black Fins since winning the team world title in Adelaide in 2012, followed by similar success at Montpellier in France in 2014 and Noordwijk in the Netherlands in 2016.

"In surf lifesaving, the Aussies are like the All Blacks of the sport – on steroids. They've had some of the greatest athletes in surf lifesaving history."


So how come New Zealand has won so often?

"The environment in the team matters. New Zealanders have a much higher appreciation of representing their country than other countries do. To represent New Zealand is the Holy Grail. Other countries, I'm not so sure."

Pocock cites the case of 2016 triple gold medalist Max Beattie, representing the Omanu club, but who's lived most of his life in Australia.

"He's a world champion, but in Australian interclub competition he's far from a superstar."

Twelve athletes will go to Adelaide in three months, but 13 have been selected for the first camp.

"We have to decide between two of our sprinters, Kodi Harmon (Papamoa) and Murdoch Finch (Omanu)."

At the world championships, the athletes compete in 43 events – 21 on the beach, 21 in the pool and a SERC or Simulated Emergency Response Competition.

Each of the Black Fins take part in up to 10 events. Former Olympic swimmer Steven Kent, who won three medals in the Netherlands two years ago, is likely to start in every individual pool event, as well as relays.


Six of the 13 named have Tauranga club affiliation, but four of them live in Australia.

As well as Beattie, Finch is based across the Tasman as are other medallists from 2016, Natalie Peat of Papamoa and Olivia Eaton from the Mount Maunganui club.

Papamoa's Harmon and clubmate Madison Kidd still live locally in what their national coach calls the "epicentre of surf lifesaving in New Zealand".

In the Netherlands two years ago, the Black Fins completed a first. They were the first national team in modern world championship history dating back to 1988 (although there had been previous world events from 1955) to be the highest scoring team in both the pool and beach events, as well as the overall world champions.

Half of the team picked to defend the title in Adelaide were there in 2016. As well as Beattie, Kent, Peat and Eaton, the outstanding Gisborne pair of Chris Dawson and Cory Taylor are returning.

Newcomers to the team include two from Otago, Andrew Trembath and Carina Doyle, as well as Kidd and a Year 13 student from Gisborne Girls High School, Olivia Corrin, who won the Ironwoman at the recent Sanyo Cup in Japan.

The other member of the squad is Gold Coast-based Aucklander Danielle McKenzie, the New Zealand, Australian and world champion in the women's surf ski.

The team to train in Rotorua this week is:

Andrew Trembath, St Clair (Dunedin)
Carina Doyle, St Clair (Dunedin)
Chris Dawson, Midway (Gisborne)
Cory Taylor, Midway (Gisborne)
Danielle McKenzie, Mairangi Bay (Auckland)
Kodi Harman, Papamoa (Tauranga)
Max Beattie, Omanu (Tauranga)
Murdoch Finch, Omanu (Tauranga)
Madison Kidd, Papamoa (Tauranga)
Natalie Peat, Papamoa (Tauranga)
Olivia Corrin, Midway (Gisborne)
Olivia Eaton, Mount Maunganui (Tauranga)
Steven Kent, Titahi Bay (Wellington)