Surf lifesaving conjures up images of cool, blond surfing types hanging out on beaches through the summer.
There's also those super athletes you see on television doing incredible races where they swim, paddle boards and run like the wind.
If that sounds like something you'd like, you don't have to leave town – it happens right here in Nelson.
The Nelson Surf Lifesaving Club sprang from Marine Rescue, which started in the 1930s. In 1989 the organisation affiliated with Surf Life Saving New Zealand and along with the coastguard has worked out of the Sealord-funded Marine Rescue Centre on Wakefield Quay for about 20 years.
Last summer the Nelson club provided support for the Port Nelson Summer Sea Swim Series. Once a week throughout the summer, two boats, manned by qualified lifeguards, turned out to accompany the 150 swimmers taking part in the series.
It was reassuring for swimmers to know that whatever happened, there were qualified people on hand.
When they're not looking after the sea swims, the club watches over swimmers at Tahunanui Beach on Sunday afternoons during summer. On Sunday mornings and on some Thursday afternoons before the swims, they hold training sessions for their members.
Membership stands at 38 under-14s and 32 lifeguards over the age of 14, but there's room to grow and the opportunity to join over the winter.
Right now, club members are training for pool events, which involve a progression from local to world championships.
"Pool champs is good surf lifesaving winter training," says club representative Ed Steenbergen.
"Events include obstacle swims, manikin tow and carries, with brick carry for the junior grades, with variants with fins, as well as relays.
"We plan on holding three 25m pool champs events in Richmond in August/September; the Tasman area 25m pool champs are in Greymouth in September; the South Island 50m pool champs are yet to be confirmed; the national 50m pool champs are in Wellington in October; and Rescue 2012 world championships in Adelaide in November.
"We invite all interested swimmers to an introduction session 9-11am on Sunday, June 3, at ASB Pool in Richmond to come and try the events and equipment."
Swimming for surf lifesaving isn't the only swimming going on over the winter.
More than 40 Nelson tri club members have qualified for the world championships in triathlon and aquathlon, to be held in Auckland in October.
Many of them train at 6am several mornings a week at one of the region's two pools.
As well, a growing number of participants in the Port Nelson series are keeping up their form with regular pool sessions.
Although Nelson's blessed with good coaches, swimmers are always keen for something new. National swim coach Ally Boggs is heading our way on June 16-17 offering a combination of one-on-one and group sessions. Top triathletes Richard Ussher and Britta Martin have trained under Boggs.
It's interesting that the most popular have been the one-on-one sessions, so Boggs has rejigged things for her Nelson visit to accommodate demand.
If you'd like more information about Nelson Surf Lifesaving, the Ally Boggs swim sessions in June, details of Nelson swim coaches or training groups of different abilities you can swim with over the winter, please email me.
- The Nelson Mail