Winter might have arrived but New Zealand's surf lifesaving stars are just warming up as they head into their first camp ahead of a busy year of international competition.
It's the first time in around two years that the High Performance Open, Youth and Development squads, named in March, have come together for a camp.
With the Sanyo Cup (Japan), World Games (Poland) and International Surf Rescue Challenge (Mt Maunganui) all taking place in the next six months, the athletes have a lot ahead of them.
From tomorrow to Sunday, they will take part in a number of training and development sessions and team building activities at the Millennium Institute in Auckland's Mairangi Bay.
New Zealand Open Squad coach, and coach of the winning 2016 Lifesaving World Champion Black Fins, Jason Pocock (Mairangi Bay), says he's looking forward to getting his squad together at the start of a new campaign period.
"It will be great to further develop the legacy of the Black Fins and set the scene for the next 18 months leading up to the 2018 Lifesaving World Championships, he says.
"I am looking forward to giving the athletes that have not been in the Black Fins a chance to continue building on what has come before and give the new leaders a chance to grow as people start moulding where we are heading over the next 18 months."
Nineteen of the 21 Open athletes will be taking part in the weekend's activities with Devon Halligan competing in Tahiti and Nick Malcolm racing in America.
Some of the special guests will include the 2016 Halberg Coach of the Year Gordon Walker and captain of the 2012, 2014 and 2016 Lifesaving World Champion Black Fins Andy McMillan.
Mr Pocock says he's looking forward to working with the new supporting coaches in the Open squad and utilising their strengths to further improve the Black Fins.
"I'm also looking forward to working with the Youth and Development squads' management teams. A strength of New Zealand sports is the collaboration that we value and this will be important if we want to stay at the forefront of international surf lifesaving," he says.
New Zealand Youth team manager Shane Smith (Papamoa) echoes the sentiment that the squads are going to be put through their paces throughout the weekend.
All bar two (Zac Reid and Lochlainn O'Connor) of his 19 athletes will be taking part and he expects them all to arrive with a great attitude, ready to give it their all and take advantage of every opportunity put before them.
"They are a young team and have the chance to rub shoulders with
the world's best Black Fins and learn from them," he says.
Mr Smith says he hopes that the athletes will leave the camp at the end of the weekend with clear expectations for the year ahead.
"This squad is just the first step and they need to continue to engage and perform. There are plenty of young athletes who also want to make the squad next year," he says.
Youth coach Matt Cairns (Papamoa) says "the hard work starts here in our build up to success at the 2017 International Surf Rescue Challenge and the 2018 Lifesaving World Championships."
Development squad coach Danny Morrison (Mairangi Bay) says his athletes will also benefit from the opportunity to integrate with the Open squad and gain an understanding of what it takes to progress from a development level athlete to an international Surf athlete.
Morrison will be coaching the New Zealand representative team at the Sanyo Cup in Japan later this month.
"A number of the athletes that are going to the Sanyo Cup will
be at this camp, so it is a great chance to get to know some of
their team mates and develop a few plans for racing in two weeks'
time," he says.
To keep up-to-date with the squad camp over the weekend, visit the High Performance Facebook page or on Twitter and Instagram @slsnzhp.
Click here to view the squads list.
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Manager, SLSNZ
Phone 0276 488 823