Mt Maunganui Surf Lifesaving Club
Gearing up for a boomer summer.
On the back of success at national events the club is hosting a number of major surf lifesaving tournaments on the main beach this summer.
They include the Eastern Region Senior Championships (January 26 -28), Oceans Junior Festival of Surf ( February 22-25) and the 2024 SLSNZ National Championships in March 14-17. The club’s achievements come on the back of three challenging years. Covid impacted hugely on activities in 2020 and 2021, followed by one of the worst summers on record last year in the Bay of Plenty.
Mt Maunganui took top honours in the 2023 TSB New Zealand Surf Life Saving championships for the 9th consecutive year.
The club also won both the 2022 and 2023 Pool Rescue Championships, making it a clean sweep in the pool and on the beach.
Head coach for the past 20 years, John Bryant also won Coach of the Year title at the 2023 National Awards of Excellence at Te Papa in September.
The 59-year-old was acknowledged for his “outstanding success” at club level, his work with athletes and officials at other clubs and for developing the sport and fostering a positive lifesaving community.
John says having “awesome kids to coach and a great team of officials and volunteers” keeps the job fun and rewarding even in the toughest of times.
“We could have easily lost half our membership during covid, and the work done behind the scenes by everyone was pretty massive.”
The job involves long hours and a willingness to take on many roles from manager, physio, health and career advisor to taxi driver.
The 46-week annual programme starts in May with a mix of running, swimming, board and ski paddling activities in preparation for SLSNZ national and international events.
Health and safety are key.
“The ocean is unpredictable and you have to ensure athletes are put into conditions that they can handle,” says John who joined the St Clair Lifesaving Club in Dunedin in his early teens.
John is always on the look-out for new tips and techniques – taking time out on an overseas holiday in September to sit in on a jet ski course in Hossegor in France run by a team from Hawaii.
“I love seeing people do well in whatever they are trying to achieve whether it’s winning an event, setting new personal bests or just learning a new skill for the first time.”
Eastern region sport manager Sonia Keepa says the club’s achievements have given everyone a boost.
“Our clubs and people like John have worked really hard over the last year to engage with members, retain the and build a positive, resilient culture.
“Bay of Plenty is a fantastic holiday destination and we’re looking forward to an exciting busy safe summer on the main beach with everyone swimming between the flags,” she says.