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Claudia Kelly ends top surf livesaving season

Claudia Kelly ends top surf livesaving season

Claudia Kelly ends top surf livesaving season

Screen Shot 2017 04 07 at 4.46.21 PM

The time has come for Claudia Kelly to focus even more on surf lifesaving.

The 15-year-old New Plymouth Girls' High School student has always been a bit of an allrounder, excelling at dance, school and cross-country.

However, the East End club member has just come off a really impressive surf lifesaving season that saw her take home a Taranaki record nine medals from the national championships at New Brighton Beach after returning from the New Zealand pool championships.

She was hoping to carry that exciting form across the Tasman to the Australian champs but the meet was cut short because of Cyclone Debbie.

"It was super frustrating because I wanted to test myself against the Aussies," she said.

"There is a high standard of competition here but it's way different over there. It was just hard to get over there and not be able to do most of the events. I also felt a bit sorry for them because they didn't get to do their nationals."    

Nevertheless, she still managed to win gold in the under-17 women's 2km beach relay.

"I just love everything to do with water."

That has been illustrated by the fact she was competing at East End as soon as she was old enough to enter "nip-nip" events.

A self-confessed "really competitive person", Kelly's strengths this season have been on the board but her all-round ability has meant she has picked up medals in the manikin carry, rescue medley, tube rescue, diamond race, surf race, ski race, ironwoman, taplin replay and board relay.

The first medal she ever won was in the under-14 board relay which simply made her want more.

"I felt like then that I really want to do this and do the best that I can. Getting up on the podium is really addictive."

Despite that competitiveness, Kelly remains mature enough to understand that a rogue wave or a fellow competitor's mistake can end her hopes of winning a race very quickly.

Her expectations before the nationals were not low as she admits she was after a clean-sweep of events.

"I just want gold in as many races as I could. I was really happy with my board and diamond race and they're my main events so they came together well for me."

A member of Surf Lifesaving New Zealand's youth squad along with team-mate Hannah Baker, Kelly has spent a bit of time at the high performance centre in Auckland.

Her short-term goal is to make the New Zealand team for the Sanyo Cup in Japan while she also wants to cement a place in the squad for the international challenge event in Mt Maunganui at the end of the year.

"It's going to be a really busy year."

 - Stuff

GLENN MCLEAN