SURF Life Saving’s Pathways program has played an integral role in improved performances across the board for Hastings competitors.
After its introduction in Port Macquarie three years ago, coach Richard Broomby said strong results in interbranch, country and state titles could partly be traced back to the program.
“We used to get our backsides handed to us a few years ago and then we started to think about what we were doing wrong,” he said.
As a result, Broomby, Rob Hiatt, Pete Smith and Trent Seale all put their hands up to play a role in getting surf life savers to a stage where they would be consistently competitive.
The results have spoken for themselves as all three clubs from the Hastings – Port Macquarie, Wauchope-Bonny Hills and Tacking Point all continue to medal consistently.
Broomby said the main focus of the pathways program was to provide a route from nippers all the way through to possible Ironman selection.
“It’s more about trying to keep the sport growing, especially in that young cadet age where they go elsewhere,” he said.
“We provide that extra level of training where the kids can make the decision to be as good as they want to be.”
“The results at a higher level for most of the competitors speak for themselves; it’s working.”
Broomby admitted some participants in the program were unlikely to pick up medals at country titles, but that wasn’t overly important.
“We’re happy if their goal is just to be as good as they can be,” he said.
“We’ve got kids in the program that are never going to claim medals at country level, but they’ll be better than the average person and that’s important for us.
“If the kids then want to progress to state or Australian level, that’s what we cater for.”
The program focuses on improving athletes skills on the board, swim and iron events.
“We’ll build them up to a level where they can then progress to that higher-end stage where we’ll then hand them over to more elite coaches in the program.”
The Pathways program isn’t exclusive and had already benefited young surf life savers who were from the area, but didn’t compete for a local club.
“Someone like Paige Leishman has to compete for a club like Cudgen because there’s no one here to compete with, but we still train her here,” Broomby said.
“She benefits from it.
“And then we have kids like Hugh Stewart, Chase Anderson and Jack Tougher who all had strong performances at country,” he said.
“They won gold in the ski relay which we can put a small part down to this program.”
There was “no doubt” the result was strong competitors across all surf clubs locally.
“It’s working and when it works it’s like a moth to a flame,” Broomby said.