Posted by: Nick Ward | 16 December, 2010

So, now you’re a lifesaver…

Traditions can sometimes be kinda cool.

Three weeks ago I graduated as a surf lifesaver, and after ten weeks of training with our caps turned inside out, our Bronze Medallion team was at last permitted to turn them the right side out, and proudly show off the distinctive red and yellow quartered design. This we all did together with a loud cheer. It was a good moment. We were lifesavers at last.

Now, I like to think that being on patrol with my Tamarama club mates in my red & yellow cap won’t see comparisons to Paul Hogan’s sidekick (and manager, as it so happened) Strop, who paraded the cap around throughout the 1970s acting like a complete tool.

With a bit of luck I will make a far bolder impression.

Lifesaving is pretty cool. Lots of paddling around and catching waves on Surf Rescue boards, full-on surf swimming, and helping save lives. I’d almost use the term butch, but, of course, machismo holds no attraction for me.

Let’s face it, if I’m honest, hooking up with a lifesaver was kinda hovering in the back of my mind when I signed up for this thing. Lifesavers are hot. And it was a ‘You’re-in-Sydney-now-so-act-like-it’ thing. But it’s become a lot more.

In these ten weeks I’ve learned how to save lives. Save drowning sods from a watering grave, for sure, but the skills I’ve learned can save someone in the office or home having a coronary or an asthma attack. Treating hard or soft tissue injuries, stings and bites from our wonderful but sometimes dangerous wildlife. Heat exhaustion or, on the other extreme, hypothermia.

Now that’s pretty cool.

Yep, my risk of shark attack, or, more likely, sunburn, is greater than that in my desk job. The risk, however, is nothing compared to that of a sedentary lifestyle, so I figure just go for it.

I’ve met brilliant people, who in a very non-Sydney way actually invite me to stuff. Hardly any of them are, in fact, from Sydney – how about that. My ‘Bronzie’ group have become the centre of my social circle in the harbour city.

First patrol is probably this weekend, and I can’t wait.

Postscript: Tamarama SLSC have a second Bronze Medallion course starting in January, and there’s an information session Sunday 19 December – an unashamed plug I know, but check out the Tama website if you’re interested.


  1. Nice blog post Nick ! Look forward to see you on patrol… or at the pub 😉

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