For busy Lizzy, life’s a beach
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.
Surf life saver Lizzy Baty has been nominated for the regional Surf Life Saver of the year award.