NEW SKILLS: Joseph Warne, Hayley Smith, Finn Whitney, Paige Leishman and Nathan Mackenzie at the Surf Life Saving NSW development camp.
NEW SKILLS: Joseph Warne, Hayley Smith, Finn Whitney, Paige Leishman and Nathan Mackenzie at the Surf Life Saving NSW development camp. SLS NSW / Jamie Nilsson

Local kids learn from the best at surf life saving camp

SCHOOL uniforms were out and swimmers and goggles were in for a handful of the most talented surf sport athletes from the Far North Coast, who attended a state wide development camp in Sydney last week.

The Surf Life Saving NSW Junior Development Academy Camp, previously known as the Talented Athlete Program, is for athletes aged 12-14 across all 11 branches who have demonstrated potential in any of the water disciplines.

For many of these talented youngsters it was the first time they had been exposed to a high performance environment.

Proving that anything is possible, many of the previous graduates have gone on to represent both NSW and Australia in surf sports.

The Far North Coast was represented by five athletes including Nathan Mackenzie (Lennox Head - Alstonville), Paige Leishman (Byron Bay), Joseph Warne, Hayley Smith (Cudgen Headland) and Finn Whitney (Cabarita Beach).

Throughout the three-day program, held at the Sydney Academy of Sport on Sydney's Northern Beaches, the athletes participated in training sessions under the eagle eye of top state coaches, attended discussions on nutrition, had their skills and techniques analysed and were introduced to high performance and recovery techniques.

"I've had a great time at this camp making new friends and learning new skills that I can take back," Paige said.

"It's inspired me to train harder and reach my goals and it was so good to be able to have an athlete from the Nutri-Grain Series come in and talk to us."

The other participants were just as enthusiastic.

"Camp has been a blast and I have had so much fun and I made a lot of new friends and built up some new relationships," Hayley said.

"The camp has been a lot of fun, not too strict like school but one of the best bits has been training with Mowy (NSW Head Coach Jeff Mowbray) who had a lot of good tips," Finn said.

Joseph said he had learned a lot of new technical things he can put in place when he returns to club training, while Nathan said that despite the cold conditions, training with some of the state's best was a lot of fun.

NSW Surf Sports development officer, Mikaela Mew, said the athletes' time at the camp will continue to benefit them into the future.

"It was a highly successful and enjoyable camp where the participants gained skills that they can use in their own training when they return to their clubs," she said.

"What we aim to achieve is to show these kids what it takes to succeed at a high level in surf sport, and it's exciting to think what they can achieve this season and beyond."

The class of 2015 included athletes who have already won medals at both the Country and NSW Championships held earlier this year, and with access to this type of specialist training the sky's the limit for this talented bunch.



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