Surf Studio: Jenny Kenny
One of Tasmania’s first female surf lifesavers
In episode five of Surf Studio, we chat to Surf Life Saving Australia Life Member Jenny Kenny from Cudgen Headland about what it was like to be a part of the first female Bronze Medallion squad in Tasmania and her journey through Surf Life Saving over the past 40 years.
On July 1 1980, a motion was passed by the national council to allow women to train and receive their Bronze Medallion, and allowed women to be able to participate in full active surf lifesaving duties in clubs around the country.
Jenny Kenny and her squad mates were some of the first women in Tasmania and around Australia to receive their Bronze Medallion, at Carlton Park SLSC in South East Tasmania.
“There was five of us in the squad, we all played water polo together, one of them was pregnant at the time, so there was sort of six girls in the squad,” Jenny said of the first female Bronze squad at her original surf club, Carlton Park SLSC.
“It was really tough pulling that belt but at least we were used to swimming.
“We trained so hard…with the reel, line and belt. We were not so confident as belt swimmers in those days so we did a lot of training and a lot of drills on the beach and it was freezing.”
Jenny said that to begin with, just being able to go on patrol when females had not been able to, was a really proud moment for her, but since then Jenny has had many more achievements that she’s also proud of.
“I’d only been patrolling a couple of years and I started assessing and then I became the Director of Lifesaving for Tasmania,” Jenny said.
“Taking on that Director of Lifesaving role just gave me such a good understanding of lifesaving in Australia… and being on that national committee is one of my really proud moments.
“But I guess some of my proudest moments would be as an official when I really got to get out there and take on some senior roles, both in Tassie then in New South Wales and at an Australian level as well.
Through her years of her dedication to the movement Jenny Kenny received Life Membership of Surf Life Saving Australia and received the phone call from SLSA President Graham Ford AM when she was at an event officiating.
“Actually I got the call from Graham when we were at the New South Wales age titles… so it was really busy time and very exciting but I sort of didn’t think about it for a few days because we were so flat out with competition and everything,” Jenny said of receiving the news.
“Thinking back though and reflecting, I was very proud, but I also didn’t really want to tell anybody…because I wanted the focus to be on the competition, not the focus on me.
“It’s a nice recognition of the time that I’ve put in … but I have also certainly got a lot out of surf lifesaving.”
Surf Studio is regular online show with each episode featuring stories from around Australia and covering a range of topics such as sport, lifesaving, leadership, education etc and Surf Life Saving Australia encourages everyone to be involved. If you, or anyone you know has a story that you would like to share via Surf Studio please email firstname.lastname@example.org