Former title-holder aims to surf out on high

CRUNCH TIME: Accountant Nikki Cox has her sights firmly focused on a successful surf lifesaving world championship for the NZ team.
CRUNCH TIME: Accountant Nikki Cox has her sights firmly focused on a successful surf lifesaving world championship for the NZ team.

If Nikki Cox had taken up juggling rather than surf lifesaving, she probably would have been a world champion at that, too.

The Wellington-based accountant has two world titles under her belt and is now the most experienced member of the New Zealand women's surf lifesaving team.

The team will attempt to upset world champions Australia on their home turf in Adelaide in November.

To do this, Cox, 27, is juggling a strict training routine with fulltime work at PricewaterhouseCoopers and, just for good measure, she's also studying to be a chartered accountant. She will sit her final six-hour exam the week before the world championships begin.

Cox won her first world title in 2006 in the surf-ski discipline and followed it up in Germany in 2008, winning the board title.

But she struggled with the extreme conditions she faced in Egypt in 2010.

These world championships, which she believes will be her last, are all about redemption and going out proud in front of her family.

"To be honest I did say in 2008 that this was my last one, and then in 2010 that this was my last one, so I don't know. But this year most of my family is going to be there . . . I'm just looking forward to making them proud."

To go out on a high, Cox is having to make sacrifices.

"It's coming to crunch time now. Certain things need to be put on hold. Socialising doesn't really happen for the next two months," she said.

Cox grew up in Hawke's Bay, studied at Waikato and shifted to Wellington nearly three years ago.

The majority of her New Zealand team-mates are based in Australia because the water is warmer but Cox has bucked the trend.

"It's kind of something you get used to, training through the New Zealand winter. I've done it for so many years now. It's just about wearing the right gear and knowing the places to go," she said.

"Generally the wind's blowing one way in Wellington, so there's always a sheltered spot somewhere."

A typical day for Cox starts in the pool at 5:30am. Work from nine to five takes up a lot of her time but she manages to sneak in a gym session at lunchtime and then does specialist training on the water in the evening.

She is happy to have eggs in a lot of baskets and said time management was the key to succeeding at work, study and surf lifesaving.

Cox is off to Adelaide next week for a New Zealand team training camp.

"I think everyone's got their own strengths and when we come together we'll be a force," she said. "I don't think there's anything stopping us this time."

New Zealand surf lifesaving team for the world championships in Adelaide from November 7-18: Max Beattie (Omanu), Nikki Cox (Westshore), Paul Cracroft-Wilson (Fitzroy), Steven Ferguson (Piha), Devon Halligan (Midway), Chanel Hickman (Mairangi Bay), Natasha Hind (Lyall Bay), Steven Kent (Titahi Bay), Samantha Lee (Lyall Bay), Andy McMillan (St Clair), Kevin Morrison (Mairangi Bay), Laura Quilter (Wainui)