Opportunity for High Performance squads to relax, reflect and re-focus

Thursday, 30 April 2020

The Black Fins and Junior Black Fins squads were announced at the TSB New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships
in March. Photo: Rod Salt

After the highs of being selected for Surf Life Saving NZ’s High Performance squads, following the recent TSB Nationals, Lifesaving Sport athletes are adjusting to training creatively and within the restrictions of an international pandemic.

The Black Fins, Junior Black Fins and IRB crews were all due to attend the Lifesaving World Championships 2020 in Riccione, Italy in September, however on April 26 the International Life Saving Federation announced the decision to move the event to 2022.

“We completely understand and support the decision to reschedule the World Championships,” Surf Life Saving NZ’s Sport Manager Lewis McClintock says. “While it’s good to now have certainty for our programmes, it is still incredibly disappointing for our athletes who worked so hard to get selected.”  

Matt Cairns is the coach of the Black Fins and says the squad is a “mix of former world champions who know what is required to achieve on the highest stage, and emerging talent who are hungry to push for event selections”.

He says COVID-19 restrictions kicked in very quickly after the TSB New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships on March 13 and 15, so the mood after the squad was named was quieter than usual.

“People were already turning to what lay ahead. There’s been a mix of emotions – disappointment, frustration etc, but everyone is conscious that Covid-19 poses a pretty massive global threat and this is one of those occasions when a situation is much bigger than sport.”

Youth Squad Head Coach Zac Franich says the majority of athletes named in the Worlds Squad were existing squad members from last season.

“The excitement of being one step closer to representing New Zealand was clearly evident. Achieving selection into any High Performance squad takes a lot of time and dedication, so when your name is called out, it’s a pretty cool thing.”

On top of the Lifesaving World Championships in Italy, the Junior Black Fins were also due to attend the Australian Pool Rescue Champs in August which has also been postponed.

Zac says contingency plans are being worked through in regards to “what the rest of the season might look like and how to navigate the new environment”.

“Most athletes are enjoying a well-earned break as lockdown coincided with the end of their competitive seasons. Some have been active at home and getting creative.

“Coaching in lockdown looks like a lot of phone calls, Zoom chats and emails. We’re working hard behind the scenes to deliver remote initiatives as best we can.”

New Zealand IRB Coach Jaron Mumby says excitement had been building ahead of the Lifesaving World Championships in Italy.

During Alert Levels 3 and 4, the team is keeping in constant contact, setting each other challenges, and keeping up to date with how everyone is feeling.

“Level 4 has been a chance for the athletes to take a break, be kind to themselves in terms of have a bowl of ice cream, relax and take a breather.”

He says the athletes are appreciating the little bit of training flexibility that has come with Level 3.

“Coaching at this stage is more a support role, offering leadership and motivation for the road ahead.”

Tanya Hamilton is Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s High Performance Manager and says the change in dates, and COVID-19 restrictions, provides an opportune time to review the High Performance programmes.

“We’re focusing on how the programmes can be more sustainable, how we can develop our people better (athletes, coaches and support people), and how we can continuously impact positively on athlete performances at pinnacle events”

”Being a high performance athlete involves total commitment, dedication and an awful lot of practice and sacrifice.

“Once an athlete is at or near the high performance level, keeping them in the high performance space and getting them performance ready relies on a collaborative team effort.”

She says the coaches are integral in navigating the athletes to get the best out of their training and preparation – physically, mentally and emotionally.

“The open and youth teams have been incredibly successful at world championship events in the past, along with the NZ IRB crew winning the first IRB World Championship event in 2018.

“These are outstanding achievements and the desire to continue the success and the legacy doesn’t waver,” Tanya says.

“We are continuing to work with the current management team and athletes on new initiatives and opportunities that will continue to develop our High Performance programmes towards the new goal of 2022.

* High Performance Sport New Zealand continues to support Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s High Performance athletes.

Surf Life Saving NZ Chief Executive Officer Paul Dalton says the support is critical to the organisation’s high performance programme and ensures the team has the best chance of winning the next World Championships – which they did in 2012, 2014 and 2016.


The full teams are:

2020 New Zealand Open Squad – Black Fins

Briana Irving (Waikanae)
Carina Doyle (St Clair)
Casie Fyall (Waikanae)
Chris Dawson (Midway)
Claudia Kelly (East End)
Cory Taylor (Midway)
Daniel Rippon (Piha)
Danielle McKenzie (Mairangi Bay)
Hayley Cox (Lyall Bay)
Jarvis Hansen (Taylors Mistake)
Kodi Harman (Papamoa)
Lewis Clareburt (Lyall Bay)
Levi Ata (Piha)
Libby Bradley (Mt Maunganui)
Lochlainn O'Connor (Mt Maunganui)
Lucy Makaea (Piha)
Madison Kidd (Whangamata)
Max Beattie (Omanu)
Mike Lee (Mairangi Bay)
Natalie Peat (Papamoa)
Olivia Corrin (Midway)
Olivia Eaton (Mt Maunganui)
Oscar Williams (Piha)
Rachel Clarke (Mairangi Bay)
Sasha Reid (Fitzroy)
Scott Cowdrey (Papamoa)
Steven Kent (Titahi Bay)
Zac Quickenden (South Brighton)
Zac Reid (Fitzroy)

Head Coach: Matt Cairns
Assistant Coach (Ocean): Cory Hutchings
Assistant Coach (Pool): Daniel Grant
Assistant Coach (Swim): TBC
Manager: Steven Vaughan
Assistant Manager: Fiona Hastie
Physiotherapist: Kendall Stevenson

2020 Lifesaving World Championships Youth Squad – Junior Black Fins

Astaria Teaukura (Mairangi Bay)
Ava Smith (Wainui)
Briana Irving (Waikanae)
Jack Keepa (Wainui)
Joe Collins (Fitzroy)
Lachie Falloon (Waikanae)
Lucy North (East End)
Molly Shivnan (Omanu)
Olive Pearce (Mt Maunganui)
Patrick Makgill (Red Beach)
Sam Brown (Otaki)
Sasha Reid (Fitzroy)
Seven Mapu (Waikanae)
Sophie Lynskey (Mount Maunganui)
Thomas MacGibbon (Sumner)
Thomas Scott (Omanu)
Wesley Akeripa (Ocean Beach Kiwi)

Head Coach: Zac Franich
Assistant Coach (Ocean): Mike Janes
Manager: Byron Reid
Assistant Manager: William Wilkins
Physio: Mike Ellis

2020 New Zealand IRB Crews

Women's Crews - Sunset Beach
Taylor Shrimpton
Abigail Chapman

Men's Crews - Sunset Beach
Shane Edwards
Mark Edwards

Coach: Jaron Mumby
Manager: Andrew Lancaster


For more information, please contact: 

Melanie Louden
Media and Communications Manager
Surf Life Saving NZ
021 757 433