The world champion Black Fins, anchored by Tauranga athletes, have made an impressive start to their Life Saving World Championships campaign in Adelaide, securing a podium finish.
Facing the Simulated Emergency Response Competition (SERC), both the Black Fins and Junior Black Fins faced different scenarios, which replicate a real life situation and require multiple response including rescuing potential drowning victims, first aid, and panicked bystanders.
The world championships, held every two years, showcase excellence in life saving sports and rescue. This year's champs are being held in Adelaide, South Australia, until December 2.
Only four athletes from the team of 12 take part in the SERC. Leading the SERC for the Black Fins team was Natalie Peat of Pāpāmoa, backed up by Danielle McKenzie of Auckland, Max Beattie from Omanu and Wellington's Steven Kent.
Kent said it is a tough event to plan and prepare for because you "just don't know what you're going to get."
The team got a lakeside scenario, where some people had got into trouble, and someone had gone out to help on a board and ended up getting in trouble themselves, Kent said.
"We tried to train for it as best we could but it's so difficult because of the nature of the event and not knowing what the scenario is until you go out. We just tried to keep each other calm beforehand, went through our processes, and discussed what we're looking out for and how to back each other up," he said.
"I thought our communication was really strong and we were pretty clear on what we were trying to do, and what our roles were. It obviously worked so we're stoked," he added.
Meanwhile, the Junior Black Fins, coached by Matt Cairns, who was club coach of the Pāpāmoa Surf Life Saving Club in the 2017-2018 season and was named the TSB Coach of the Year at the Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) Awards of Excellence in September, had a similar scenario and they finished in eighth.
Their team was made up by leader Mitch Cowdrey of Pāpāmoa, alongside Declan Dempster and Lochlainn O'Connor of Mount Maunganui and New Plymouth's Claudia Kelly.
Their SERC scenario was a pool party "gone bad", with multiple victims struggling in and around the water, including a sleepy supervisor.
Junior Black Fins Head Coach Matt Cairns said the team had a strong start to the competition and they should be proud of their performance.
"We had a pretty good start to our World Championships campaign. The team put in a huge effort at SERC and we're proud of what they managed to achieve. We're really looking forward to getting onto the beach, although the weather appears to have worsened again which could create a bit more swell," he explained.
"We will just focus on one race at a time and doing the best we can, which we're certain the athletes will do."