LONDON Olympians Naomi Flood, Ryan Napoleon and Jade Neilsen will head line a new look Australian Life Saving Squad announced today for Rescue 2014 – the World Life Saving Championships in France next September. The all-star squad is to be coached by National Head Coach Danny Short from Maroochydore.
Kayaker Flood and Australian Swim Team members Napoleon and Neilsen will join a host of Surf and Pool Lifesaving athletes in the star-studded 24-strong squad that includes:
– Noted Surf Life Saving champions and current Australian captain and Ironman legend Shannon Eckstein, Coolangatta Gold winner Ali Day, Ironman star Kendrick Louis, Two-time Australian Ironman, Series and Coolangatta Gold winner Courtney Hancock, two-time Australian Ironwoman champion Kristyl Smith and nine-time beach flags golden girl Melissa Howard;
– Eckstein and Smith were two of the stars of the Australian team at Rescue 2012 with Eckstein winning four individual gold medals in the ironman, swim, board and ski and Smith the surf race and board.
– Surf and Pool Lifesaving stars, twins Miranda and Sam Bell who both won silver medals in the Super Lifesaver event at the 2012 World Lifesaving Championships and;
– Expert Pool Lifesaving champions Mitch Parkes and Andrew Bowden who have a number of Australian and Commonwealth Lifesaving Records between them.
The squad named by Surf Life Saving Australia and Royal Life Saving Society – Australia is aimed at regaining Australia’s World Number One status at Rescue 2014 in Montpellier and La Grande Motte next September.
Olympic kayaker and prolific Australian champion, Flood, returns to the Squad after her successful campaign to make her Olympic kayak debut in 2012.
She continued her lifesaving career at this year’s Aussies at North Kirra to win five gold medals in the single ski, double ski, ski relay, mixed double and Rescue Tube Rescue events.
Flood, one of Australia’s leading sportswomen, has recently been named in the Australian Kayak Squad for this year’s World Championships in Duisberg, Germany in August-September.
While she has her sights set on Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Flood will target Rescue 2014 in a concerted effort to re-establish Australia as the premier lifesaving Nation in the world.
The inspirational Flood was a key member of the World Championship-winning Lifesaving teams in 2010 in Egypt and 2008 in Germany, winning the open single ski and ironwoman (2010) and as a member of the gold medal winning Australian women’s teams events.
Napoleon, a gold (4x200m freestyle) and silver (400m freestyle) medallist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a London Olympian in the 400 metres freestyle and Neilsen, a member of the Australian 4x200m silver medal winning squad in London will bring a new level of swimming expertise to the squad.
“To be honest, I am rapt to be involved in the high performance squad and mixing it with athletes that I normally don’t get a chance to meet,” said Napoleon.
“Jade and I have plenty of challenges ahead of us but we can’t wait to make the most of the opportunity we have been given.”
Like so many Australian stillwater champions, Napoleon (Northcliffe) and Neilsen (Surfers Paradise) both have a history in surf lifesaving as junior and age competitors – Napoleon in NSW before he moved to Queensland and Neilsen on the Gold Coast.
Each of the 24 athletes will be set up with a “Personal Performance Plan” of which they will be measured against in the lead up to Rescue 2014.
The first step in a 15 month strategy aimed at Australia becoming No 1 at Rescue 2014 is a squad camp which will take place at Coolangatta this week from July 4 to 7 with a big focus on cultural rejuvenation – developing a new found pride in the green and gold.
Short is excited with the new group with a ripened mixture of established Surf Lifesaving, Pool Lifesaving and swimming stars.
He has been charged with the task of regaining the World Number One status and believes he now has the right group of athletes to do the job.
“We have comprehensively reviewed our approach to high performance and realigned our strategy to focus on rewarding those athletes with the right DNA to be successful in France next year” said Short.
“It’s all about the high performance group, not individuals. We will recognise work ethic, positive attitude and performance. Australia could not afford to continue to do things the way we have always done them.
“We have made changes and are doing things a bit differently.
“With that comes some risks. However, I am supremely confident that as a group we will work together and support each other with a common purpose to be successful next year.
“We will be using key international events as benchmarks and tests for the World Championships, in particular the International Surf Rescue Challenge and German Cup.
“A big part of the strategy is building an identity and a following for the Australian Life Saving team and we aim to do that through various Australian Life Saving Teamsocial media platforms.”
AUSTRALIAN LIFE SAVING SQUAD, Rescue 2014, Montpellier, La Grande Motte, France:
Andrew Bowden (Bronte SLSC and The Hills Lifesaving Club)
Dane Farrell (Elouera SLSC and Port Hacking Lifeguard Club)
Kendrick Louis (Mooloolaba SLSC)
Mitch Parkes (Port Hacking Lifeguard Club and Elouera SLSC)
Ryan Napoleon (Northcliffe SLSC)
Sam Bell (Maroochydore SLSC and Port Hacking Lifeguard Club)
Shannon Eckstein (Northcliffe SLSC)
Tim Schofield (Terrigal SLSC and The Hills Lifesaving Club)
Ali Day (Mooloolaba SLSC)
Jake Lynch (Newport SLSC)
Dean Scarf (Collaroy SLSC)
Stefaan Demopoulos (Northcliffe SLSC)
Kristyl Smith (Northcliffe SLSC)
Courtney Hancock (Northcliffe SLSC)
Rachelle King (Terrigal SLSC and The Hills Lifesaving Club)
Naomi Flood (Manly SLSC)
Miranda Bell (Northcliffe SLSC)
Elly Graff (Elouera SLSC)
Melissa Howard (Kurrawa SLSC)
Jade Neilsen (Surfers Paradise SLSC)
Christina Ruiz (Northcliffe SLSC)
Chelsea Gillett (Maroochydore SLSC)
Pamela Hendry (Maroochydore SLSC and Port Hacking Lifeguard Club)
Stephanie Ballantine (Kurrawa SLSC and Engadine, Lifesaving Club)