Time To Go To Work

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

It’s time to go to work for the Black Fins and Junior Black Fins.

After a four year break due to the global Covid pandemic both teams go into battle for their respective world championships from today in Riccione, Italy.  And it’s set to be an exciting six days of racing in the pool and at the beach with over 5000 competitors from roughly 50 countries competing. 

Traditional rivalries will be reignited and there’s no doubt there will be some new ones that come to life especially in the junior events.

“Having an enforced break between events will have given some of the experienced athletes the chance to refresh and take stock of what happened at the last world championships,” Surf Lifesaving New Zealand’s High Performance Manager Tanya Hamilton says.

“And for the new members of the teams it’s just an incredibly exciting chance to represent their country.  “But there’s no doubt these world champs are going to be incredibly hard fought. Whichever team comes away with the title is going to have to work for every point.”

Across the course of the championships 21 pool rescue events and 21 ocean and beach events will be raced.  The Black Fins finished runners up to Australia in 2018 having held the title for three consecutive events in 2012, 2014 and 2016.  The Junior Black Fins, made up of athletes aged between 15 and 18 years old, are the reigning champions having won in 2018. 

For Whangamata’s Madison Kidd competing as a Black Fin is the culmination of years of hard work.

Kidd only began swimming seriously in her teenage years and now considers pool rescue her main focus in the sport. But showing her versatility she is also considered a powerhouse beach sprinter and beach flag athlete making her a unique and valuable team asset.

“Over the past few years all of us have had to make choices to keep our world champs dreams alive,” she says.  “A lot of athletes work towards event cycles, aiming to peak every number of years.  “This has been an extra-long preparation.

“But all of that is behind us now. When the starter’s gun goes in the first event, whether that’s the Open or Junior teams, it’s time to forget about all of disruption and focus on getting the job done.

“I’m so impressed with the standard of both teams. The athletes that have come here to race for New Zealand are the best of the best and it’s incredibly exciting, and an honour, to put on the black cap and race beside them.”

Both teams arrived in Riccione last week aiming to acclimatise quickly. They have spent time daily at the pool and beach finetuning their skills and getting used to the conditions.

And whilst it’s all business for both teams, they have had the chance to soak up a bit of Italy including spending a few hours in San Marino – one of the smallest and oldest republics in the world - on Friday, after their pool session.

“It’s really important to ensure that all of our people, athletes and management, have the chance to decompress and enjoy some time out of training and competition,” Hamilton says.

“Having a relaxed team that’s ready to go racing is vital.”

Racing gets underway Tuesday night New Zealand time with the Black Fins racing in the pool and the Junior Black Fins at the beach.

Follow all of the action here: SLSNZ High Performance