Hawke’s Bay’s Inaugural Rookie Lifeguard Programme Sets the Bar High

Tuesday, 14 November 2023

Rookie Lifeguard candidates from across Hawke’s Bay spent the weekend at Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) learning the skills required to become future surf lifeguards.  

The Rookie Lifeguard Programme aims to teach surf lifeguarding skills to 13-year-olds and covers a range of topics from practical surf swimming skills to more theory-based risk management.  

The 25 candidates were supported by nine volunteer instructors and surf lifeguards, who taught them how to perform rescues and searches, as well as carry out basic first aid and CPR. 

Sarnia Brewer, Surf Life Saving New Zealand Hawke’s Bay Club Development Officer, said, “It was so great to be able to bring together rookie surf lifeguards from across the four Hawke’s Bay Surf Life Saving clubs.  This is the first time we’ve done something like this in Hawke’s Bay at the rookie level”.

Most candidates proved to be strong swimmers, completing their 200 metre timed swims well under the required time. 

Kate Boersen, Ocean Beach Kiwi SLSC Head Instructor, said, “The candidates were really engaged and eager to learn. It was so rewarding to see their progress over the course of the weekend, as they became more confident in and out of the water”. 

Peta Byers of Westshore SLSC was awarded top female rookie surf lifeguard candidate while Charlie Gerber of Pacific SLSC was awarded the top male rookie surf lifeguard candidate.  

The candidates said a highlight for them was practicing their surf swimming skills and simulating rescuing patients, as well as learning how to treat external bleeding.  

The candidates will now spend the summer assisting trained surf lifeguards on patrol to further develop their surf lifeguarding skills.  

Boersen said, “I have no doubt that all candidates will go on to become competent and professional surf lifeguards in future helping to keep our beaches safe”.