For busy Lizzy, life’s a beach

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

At 26 phar­macy tech­ni­cian Lizzy Baty is con­sid­ered the ‘grand old lady’ of lo­cal surf life­sav­ing.

That’s a tongue-in-cheek ref­er­ence by Palmer­ston North Surf Life Sav­ing head, Alec McKay to one of his se­nior life­guards, who the club has nom­i­nated as Life­guard of the Year at this week­end’s Cap­i­tal Coast Awards of Ex­cel­lence in Welling­ton.

It’s one of the three big awards of the year for south­ern North Is­land life­guards, but for those who can’t quite fig­ure out what land-locked Palmer­ston North is do­ing with a surf life sav­ing club, and it not be­ing ex­actly beach sea­son, here’s the ex­pla­na­tion.

The lo­cal club calls Hi­matangi Beach home. From De­cem­ber 1 un­til the end of March, the life­guards help keep swim­mers safe by set­ting the flags de­pend­ing on tides, weather and sea con­di­tions, and car­ry­ing out proac­tive, pre-emp­tive beach pa­trols.

‘‘It’s 11 kilo­me­tres of beach ei­ther side of the flagged area,’’ Lizzy ex­plains, say­ing that the coast has more than its share of bars, rips and holes which can catch out even strong and ex­pe­ri­enced swim­mers.

A com­pet­i­tive school-age swim­mer, Lizzy was en­ticed into surf life­sav­ing by her swim coach while she was a sec­ond year at In­ter­me­di­ate Nor­mal. Be­com­ing a fully fledged life­guard at 14 , the ad­vance life­guard, pa­trol cap­tain and club vice-cap­tain has been con­tribut­ing ever since.

Even dur­ing her four years at Otago Univer­sity, Lizzy re­turned to spend the sum­mer pa­trolling Hi­matangi.

And just be­cause it’s off-sea­son doesn’t make it any less busy. An in­struc­tor, she takes the train­ing ses­sions at the Lido for club mem­bers work­ing to­wards their life­guard award.

She is also re­spon­si­ble for get­ting the ju­nior life sav­ing pro­gramme back up and run­ning, with the ju­niors com­pet­ing in car­ni­vals for the first time since 2007.

Alec says the time and en­ergy Lizzy puts into this as­pect of her role is way and above her pa­trol cap­tain re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

She has also as­sisted a group of par­ents to qual­ify as life guards.

Lizzy is the only lo­cal nom­i­na­tion in any of the award cat­e­gories, and is up against nom­i­nees from Otaki, Paekakariki, Ti­tahi Bay, Maranui, Lyall Bay and Worser Bay clubs.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

Surf life saver Lizzy Baty has been nom­i­nated for the re­gional Surf Life Saver of the year award.

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