With the new clubrooms still smelling of fresh paint, the Palmerston North Surf Life Saving Club is focusing on its next goal - a return to its glory days of competition.
The purpose-built clubhouse, which opened last month, is eight metres closer to the beach and includes an upstairs kitchen, two bunkrooms sleeping eight apiece, a first-aid room downstairs and a soundproof patrol room.
The $900,000 facility, the result of seven years of fundraising, is a far cry from the rat and bird-infested building that was demolished in March after 54 years of service.
Club surf lifesaver Adam Pennington said the patrolling season had so far been quiet, with winds keeping the number of swimmers well down on last year.
Because of the quiet, thoughts had begun to turn to training.
"It's a real goal of the club now, we want to build it through encouraging the competitive side of things.
"When we had the old building the sport started to go by the wayside a bit, because we simply had no storage space for the gear that's required for it - you were lucky if you could find it in town.
"We're now in a better position operational-wise than we ever were before, we've got something that is purpose-built rather than something that looks like a checkerboard of history, and we want to make the most of it."
Club spokeswoman Lyn McCurdy said the facilities would attract members and help rebuild the culture at the club, which once boasted the lead surf lifesaving competitors in New Zealand.
Competition also helps lifeguards deal with the changeable nature of their task. "It's great for people to get to travel to other beaches in New Zealand and test themselves in those conditions."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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