The critical and massive role that our tireless and brave crews perform, has been brought to the fore amid the heat and crowds that have flocked to the beaches all across the country over the summer period.

Surf lifesaving is a pretty unique activity. Not only does it provide great community service, and a vital personal life skill, but it is also a competitive sport.

Yes the Black Fins, world famous in lifesaving circles, and worthy of greater recognition around our country. Current back-to-back-to-back world champions, well and truly knocking Australia off the number one perch.

With the heat that we are getting in our summers, it really is a great sporting option, to encourage our young people in to.

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As well as it being a great sport in its own right, both at the fun community level, and also with a competitive performance pathway, it's also a great sport for providing that generic development to help a youngster kick on and succeed in other sports.

Surf lifesaving can provide great variety for a kid, to break away from their normal sport they may be competing in. Rather than grinding on with the same old trainings, mix it up with a bit of serious fun at the beach.

A fresh environment, having fun with the beach sprints and flags to develop speed, and some hard work running and swimming through the surf to build endurance.

It can be challenging, so great for taking confident kids outside their comfort zone, and they can run some great dry-land training sessions for fitness and fun as well.

The general water confidence developed is great, obviously for safety issues, but also makes engaging in any water sports for the rest of their life a hell of a lot easier.

They get to engage in all kinds of water activities – which adds a fair bit to the quality of life with the stifling heat we have had lately.

The surf lifesaving clubs are great. The expert education they provide to better understand the rips, the techniques for handling the big waves, and just the general respect for the sea – the great fun the sea can provide, but also dangers it presents.

And it's that respect for the sea, and safety of others that motivates so many of the volunteers and drives their mantra – "in it for life".

The surf lifesaving clubs and patrols do an amazing job, but the rest of us could be a bit more proactive to support our own safety and lessen the burden on them.

There are many great swimming coaches and classes that can be entered into, and once that grounding has been established, the option is there to progress to the surf lifesaving.

Surf Life Saving NZ has been around since 1910, so they know how to introduce someone to the club in a relaxed and safe way. With 74 clubs around the country there's great opportunity to get involved in local, regional, national and international competition… and who knows, will probably be in the Olympics one day.

Far from being a self-absorbed sport or activity, and certainly a far cry from wasting time on a gaming device, surf lifesaving can provide a rewarding sense of community achievement, which itself is a dying art, and another great reason for kids in this modern world to be involved.

The clubs are all doing an amazing job, and they will make it comfortable and easy to join. So rather than doubling up on a summer version of a winter sport, consider the refreshing beach option for the kids, a fun exciting sport where you can get the double whammy of rewarding community work at the same time.

Marcus Agnew is the health and sport development manager at Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust and is also a lecturer in sports science at EIT. All opinions are his and not those of Hawke's Bay Today's.