Surf Life Saving New Zealand is pleased to announce the team captains for the 2017 World Games and International Surf Rescue Challenge.
The captains were appointed at the High Performance squad camp in Auckland where the athletes were stationed from Friday through to Sunday for a number of training and development sessions and team building activities.
World champion Steven Kent (Titahi Bay) will captain the New Zealand team of 10 athletes (five male, five female) for the World Games multi-sport event in Wroclaw, Poland from July 20-July 30.
Over 30 sports feature in the games and the lifesaving component is a pool competition only, taking place from July 21-22.
Kent has wide-ranging experience with international pool events having represented New Zealand as part of the Black Fins for the 2012, 2014 and 2016 Lifesaving World Championships. In 2014 and 2016 he was Vice-Captain.
He has also represented New Zealand at the 2011, 2013 and 2015 German Cup pool competitions; the latter two, taking the title of top male competitor for the event.
His resume also includes representing New Zealand at European pool competitions the BeNe Cup and Orange Cup.
Kent says it's a huge honour to be part of a New Zealand surf lifesaving team again.
"To be asked to be captain takes it to another level for me which is really exciting. I've been the Vice-Captain for the Worlds team for the last two campaigns so to now step up and be the captain is exciting and I look forward to the challenge," he says.
Kent says his plan is to lead from the front and show his team mates what New Zealanders can do on the world stage.
There is a little bit of pressure, coming off the back of the World Championships last year where the Black Fins where the top pool team but because it's a newer team it's also exciting to have some pride behind that and give them a chance to prove themselves, he says.
Kent will be supported by Papamoa's Natalie Peat as Vice-Captain who is also a member of the 2014 and 2016 World Champion Black Fins.
Having been involved in the High Performance programme for over six years now, she says she has always looked up to her captains and she's excited about the opportunity to pass on some of her own knowledge to her younger team mates.
"We've got a really great team this year; there's lots of new faces and lots of old faces so it's going to be a great mix. We've got some great relays and we're going to be really competitive, so watch out."
Omanu's Max Beattie was named captain of the Black Fins team of 12 (six males and six females) for the International Surf Rescue Challenge (ISRC) which Surf Life Saving New Zealand is proud to be hosting at Mount Maunganui from November 30 to December 3.
The World Champion has been a member of the 2012, 2014 and 2016 Black Fins teams, the 2013 and 2015 ISRC teams and in 2015/16 took part in the prestigious Nutri Grain Ironman Series.
He says representing your country and being named captain on home soil is an honour and the highlight of his career so far.
He says there are a few younger people in the team and for some it will be their first time representing New Zealand so he hopes to be a good team mate and someone they can bounce ideas off.
"Personally I'd like to turn up and be a real threat in the Board Race and Ironman but, first and foremost, be a good team mate and be someone that my team mates want to be around. I think if we have fun and look after each other, the results will follow."
Beattie says having the event on home soil makes a massive difference.
"I think for us down in Mount Maunganui where a lot of us are from, it should be really exciting. Having a lot of family and friends should make for a really good atmosphere that I think might be that extra little bit of a pump up to get the job done down there," he says.
Beattie will be supported by fellow Omanu Surf Life Saving Club member Devon Halligan as Vice-Captain. The 24 year-old was also part of the 2012 and 2016 Lifesaving World Champion Black Fins and was unfortunately ruled out of the 2014 World Champs due to injury. Her other experience includes qualifying for the prestigious Nutri Grain Ironwoman series and representing New Zealand at the 2013 and 2015 ISRCs.
New Zealand Open team manager Mark Weatherall says the first squad camp of the season was a very successful weekend attended by 67 people (including athletes and coaches) for a mixture of sessions in the pool, on the beach and on the track.
"We don't often get the chance to have all three squads in the one place at the same time, so we made the most of it, he says.
"It was great to see the interaction between our World Champion Black Fins and the Youth squad. The buzz amongst the squad was positive and sets us up really well for the next 18 months as we look to win Rescue 2018."
The focus now turns to next month's World Games and preparing for the International Surf Rescue Challenge.
To keep up-to-date with the journey, visit the SLSNZ High Performance Facebook page or on Twitter and Instagram @SLSNZHP.
The Waka Hoe was passed to World Games New Zealand team captain Steven Kent.
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Manager, SLSNZ
Phone 0276 488 823