When Hamish Miller moved away from Mount Maunganui to study at Hamilton's Waikato University his surf lifesaving career had to take a back seat.

Not just because he was too busy studying towards his business degree, but more because he didn't have the same access to a beach.

For Miller, a Mount Maunganui lad who first started surf lifesaving when he was about four, it was a way of life for him.

"I moved to Waikato Uni a few years ago and there wasn't really a beach there to do my surf lifesaving," Miller says.


It was then that he started training with some triathletes, sparking a keen interest in the sport.

"I swim with all the triathlon people over there," he says.

But that doesn't mean he has stopped surf lifesaving completely. In fact he was back competing for Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service on Mount Maunganui's Main Beach last weekend, when the local club won their 10th consecutive Eastern Region Surf Lifesaving Champs title.

He says competition was tough with the event attracting many of the Australian-based athletes. Miller placed 8th in the final of the open men's board race and second in his favourite event, the Ironman, behind four-time New Zealand Ironman champion Max Beattie who headlined the Ōmanu Beach Surf Life Saving Club squad.

In March he'll be back competing for Mount Maunganui at the TSB New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships (Nationals) in Gisborne. There, he hopes to do well in the Ironman event again, the pinacle surf lifesaving event that combines swimming, surf board and ski with a beach sprint.

"I'm really just working towards the nationals in Gisborne and doing my best at that," he says.

"I want to do well at nationals this year ... racing alongside your best mates is always good."

Before then he'll focus on triathlon, heading to Tasmania where he will compete in the 2020 Devonport OTU Sprint Triathlon Oceania Cup and Oceania Championships, where he'll race in the Under 23s race next month.


Last year he was part of the mixed relay triathlon team that won the New Zealand National Championship. It was after that he secured a spot at the Oceania champs.

"I've improved a lot which has been my goal."

After that, he's unsure what will come of triathlon, but he has options to head to the Gold Coast Continental Cup and Asian Cup Sprint Triathlon Series.

But he's in no hurry to make a decision, saying it's something he'll need to discuss with his coach Chris Willet.

"Chris Willet's moulded me into tri. I've always had a dream, of getting into triathlon.

"I'm happy with how I'm progressing at the moment."

And that's something he wants to continue, saying his main goal in triathlon is to continue improving.

"I just really want to improve where I am at the moment."