The 100m Rescue Medley sounds like an exhausting event in the pool. Katikati College 2015 Sportsperson of the Year Libby Bradley recently explained it to College Sport Media.
“It’s similar to the 100m freestyle for the first lap, but then on the return 50m you tumble turn, hold your breath underwater for 17.5m and then pick up a 55kg manikin and swim with it the rest of the way home. It’s really hard.”
Last month at the National Surf Life Saving Pool Championships in Auckland, Libby smashed the New Zealand U19 100m Rescue Medley record. “I broke the record by almost two seconds. My time was a 1.19.6 and the previous time was a 121.3, the person whose record I broke is in the New Zealand Surf Life Saving team that won the Open World Championships last year.”
Representing the champion Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service club, the Year 12 student also added gold in the 200m Obstacles Swim and bronze in the 50m Manikin Carry and 100m Manikin Carry with Fins.
Earlier this year Libby also won gold at the New Zealand Age-Group Swimming Championships and competed with distinction at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships and then later won a slew of medals at the New Zealand Short Course Swimming Championships.
Not bad considering she suffered a serious injury setback at the start of the year.
“In January this year I dislocated my shoulder - so from January to March I was unable to train. I did it while playing beach flag just for fun.”
There’s never a right time to get injured, but Libby’s shoulder injury came at exactly the wrong time, at the height of her training season and several weeks before the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Nationals in Gisborne.
Although underdone, she came back to compete for her club Mt Maunganui at the Surf Life Saving Championships. “I made the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Development squad. I missed out on the team unfortunately, but hopefully if I continue to work hard and don’t get injured again then I can make it.”
The Mt Maunganui club stormed to their third consecutive overall points win, and won the Alan Gardner Trophy for the sixth time in the past nine years.
Libby also made the Development Squad in 2014, after winning her age group board race and the diamond race (surf, swim and a board combined) at last year’s national surf lifesaving championships.
Making up for lost time after her injury, Libby then won the 2015 Intermediate Girls 100m freestyle at the New Zealand Age-Group Swimming Championships in Wellington, representing the Greerton Swimming Club.
She also went to the Gold Coast for the Australian Life Saving Nationals and finished fifth in the U17 surf swim, competing against international competitors as well as the best Australians.
Her results were consistent at the New Zealand Short Course Swimming Championships in Auckland in August. “I got six bronzes in my 16 Year Old races – the 50m freestyle, the 100m freestyle, the 200m freestyle and 800m freestyle, the 100m IM and the 50m breaststroke.”
She said she took up competitive swimming as a spin-off from surf-saving. “I originally started swimming for the surf, but then realised I could do okay in swimming too. But I think my main sport is still surf.”
Does she also work as a surf lifesaver? “It’s hard to work because I have got to train, and you have got to have some rest time.”
She commutes half an hour down to Mt Maunganui and back twice a day to train for train for two hours at a time. So that’s six hours a day spent training.
She has a clear goal. “I am hoping to make the New Zealand Youth Surf Life Saving team going to the World Championships next year in the Netherlands.”
This week she’s got NCEA Level 2 exams to take care of first. She was also head of her class in history and in general science this year so should do okay there too. Next year she’s deputy head girl at Katikati College.