Naomi Flood may have grown up in surf lifesaving but she is finding it difficult getting used to the demands of competition as she makes her return to the DHL 2011 Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships at Kurrawa beach on the Gold Coast this week.
Flood, the 2006 Australian Ironwoman champion, has spent most of the past 12 months chasing her dream of competing at the London Olympic Games in kayaking.
Dedicating herself to her new sport has meant the Manly club star has spent precious little time in the surf and her muscles are letting her know the demands of the two sports are very different.
She found success today, however, progressing through the early rounds of the double ski and the surf belt race, where she was happy to see officials had set a relatively short course as a result of the tough conditions.
“I haven’t swum since the world championships in October last year,” Flood said.
“It’s pretty tough out there and it’s better for me that the course was shorter but you really feel the burn and really feel like you haven’t swum in six months.
“I’ve been looking forward to Aussies because it is so much fun, you see your mates from around the country.
“I grew up with it so I’m never going to not do surf. It’s good to be back on the beach.”
While she is contesting ski and swim races, as well as team events, Flood has bypassed the Ironwoman, preferring not to take athletes who have been preparing single-mindedly to win the glamour event.
“I like watching the girls go around and I wish I was part of it but I don’t want to be doing it if I’m not competitive,” she said.
“I don’t want to be just making up numbers. It’s good to have a break from it.”
After this week’s return to the surf, Flood will again pick up the kayak paddle and continue the preparation which has seen her produce a series of impressive results that indicate a berth in the team for London 2012 may be a real possibility.
She will travel to Europe with the Australian team next month trying to earn qualifying places in next year’s London Games.
From there, Flood will try to win herself a place in one of the Olympic boats.
“I’m enjoying the challenge of doing something you haven’t grown up with,” she said.
“In the nationals a couple of weeks ago I was going for top six in the K1 500, as women only race the 500 in the Games, and came fourth. I was rapt with that.
“I’ve kind of surprised myself and surprised a few other people.”
The early rounds of the DHL 2011 Australian surf lifesaving championships are continuing at Kurrawa today, with the only final contested so far being the women’s under-19 Rescue Tube Rescue, which was won by Manly ahead of Terrigal and Wanda.