Lucy Makaea won 20 medals at the recent Northern Regional Life Saving Championships and this week she is heading to the National Championships in Gisborne, starting on Thursday. She is part of the New Zealand squad and hoping to be selected for the team to go to the World Championships in Adelaide at the end of the year.
College Sport Media: 2017 was a busy year for you in surf life saving - tell us about some of the highlights from last year?
Lucy Makaea: 2017 was definitely a massive year for me, both in the pool rescue side of surf life saving as well as the beach side of surf life saving. My favourite highlights would have to start with at surf lifesaving nationals held at Christchurch in March 2017 where I came away with a total of seven medals - winning gold in both swimming-based events – U16 women's run swim run and the U16 women's surf race. Also taking out the under 16 women's Taplin team event too and to be selected into the New Zealand surf lifesaving youth squad. A big highlight for me was to go over to Australia to compete in the Queensland surf lifesaving pool rescue championships and coming away with five individual medals (1 gold,2 slivers and 2 bronze). Also going to the Australian surf lifesaving pool rescue championships coming away with a silver in the 100m manikin tow with fins.
The highlight I'm the proudest of is when I broke the U19 women's 100m manikin tow with fins record as a first year of being in the U19 women's category. My time was 1.03.44. Also coming away with 3 golds, 2 silvers and 2 bronzes, was an amazing achievement.
CSM: What are your favoured events?
Lucy: My favourite events in pool rescue side of surf lifesaving is the 100-manikin tow with fins and 100-manikin carry with fins. My favourite beach events of surf lifesaving is definitely the surf swim, run swim run, board and iron women.
I compete in all events in beach and pool. I love both pool rescue and I love the beach. Just being at the beach with the sun surf and sand, you get to travel to beaches all over the country and I just love being in the ocean. I love the pool because the events are so fun and it’s strength of mine.
CSM: Please explain the 100m manikin tow with fins event?
Lucy: The 100m manikin tow with fins is a race that involves a swimmer wearing fins and has a surf lifesaving yellow rescue tube on them. You dive in with your tube and fins, you swim to the end of the 50m pool where someone will be holding an orange manikin that is half filled with water. You must clip in the manikin up in the yellow tube as if it was a patient, in between a 5m margin and turn around and tow the manikin to the end of the pool.
CSM: You had an injury setback late last year?
Lucy: I first got my upper calf muscle injury at the Waipu northern regional inter-club in October. I injured it by running into a pot hole in the ocean. It was really frustrating not being able to train and do what I loved. There were many visits to the physio and acupuncture. About two-three weeks later I went to the northern regional inter-club at Muriwai, thinking I have recovered enough but I blew my upper right calf muscle again. This time it was running out of the water and my right leg hit a pot hole and pulled the muscle again. This was devastating for me. I continued with physio, acupuncture, cupping and resting for six weeks. The worst feeling was knowing that I was falling behind my competitors everyday i wasn't training. Not being able to train was hard and i missed it so much. Even though i was injured, it brought back a motivation and drive to train hard and get back to where i was before the injury.
CSM: You are in the New Zealand Youth Life Saving Squad and have nationals coming up this week in Gisborne. What are your expectations at Nationals and is the incentive there to be picked for the New Zealand World Championship team for Adelaide at the end of this year?
Lucy: I'm one of 10 girls and 10 boys in the squad. I've been training hard for nationals. I hope to medal at nationals, U19 Women’s is a hard age group. There are so many great athletes in that category and being first year U19, you have to do the extras to keep up but definitely medalling at nationals would be absolutely amazing.
It would be an absolute honour to be able to represent New Zealand at the world championships but there are so many athletes/contenders that are up for one of six places on the team. So it will definitely be a hard pick for the coaches.
CSM: Tell us about your training for your sport?
Lucy: Most mornings I have swimming training, and in five-six afternoons a week I have surf training with the Piha competition squad at Takapuna beach. When training is cancelled I go for a run and do something else to keep active. Sunday is my rest day where I kick back, relax and allow my body to recover from the week. Sunday is important to keep clear and do little so I can recover before the next week of trainings.
CSM: You are also the swim champion at Avondale College. What are your favoured swimming events, and do you swim competitively outside of school and separate to surf lifesaving?
Lucy: My favourite events for swimming are the 100m butterfly, 200 freestyle and 400m freestyle. I have recently moved to a new swim club which has been a really good change for me. I swim competitively with Mt Eden swimming club with Don Mckenna as my coach. I originally started swimming for surf and then it developed into its own separate sport.
CSM: Is it just you at Avondale College competing to a high level in surf lifesaving and in swimming, or are there others from your school?
Lucy: Ikko shibuya is a high levelled national medallist swimmer at my school, who trains at the same swimming club as me.
CSM: What is your background in swimming and surf lifesaving?
Lucy: I have been doing swimming since I was little but i didn't get into competitive swimming until I was 13. I started surf lifesaving when I was eight, some family friends told us to come and give it a shot since I loved the water so much and that's where it all started. I started competitive swimming because swimming was once my weakest disciple in the sport and now it's my strength in surf lifesaving.
CSM: A shout-out to your coaching and support?
Lucy: A big shout out to my surf coach Steven Ferguson for everything he has done for me pool side and beach side of surf lifesaving. He’s such an amazing coach pushing me to be the best I can be and the experience he has being a former surf athlete himself and being a 4 time Olympian has very useful in competing. Also to my swimming coach Don Mckenna who has trained me hard throughout the summer. He sets special trainings to benefit my surf lifesaving and is understanding when I can't make trainings because of surf lifesaving trainings and competitions. A massive shout out to my parents Gillian and Ray Makaea who have been supporting me from the start. They drive me from training to training, from one side of Auckland to the other, financially support me and are amazing parents. Huge thank you to them, I appreciate them so much and i wouldn't have been able to get this far in surf lifesaving without them.
CSM: Looking ahead, where would like to be heading with your sport when you leave school in 2019, and do you have plans yet for work, travel or study (or all three) in a year’s time?
Lucy: I’m still deciding but i would love to travel to Hawaii and Tahiti. Try to chase the sun would be a dream. I would like to study marine biology or oceanography because I'm passionate about the ocean and it's something I'm really interested in. I’m still going to be training full time for pool rescue and beach . Training in Australia for a couple of months and train with the best in the sport would be the main goal. I would like to enter the officiating side of surf and help out with the young athlete's competitions and giving back to the sport.
CSM: Thank you and good luck for the nationals and for the future!
2018 TSB New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships, featuring 1500 athletes from U15s to Masters, from 15-18 March at Medway Beach, Gisborne.
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