CULBURRA Beach athlete Kirsty Higgison is presently on the road to take on the world.
The 19-year-old is travelling to Adelaide where she will compete at the Rescue 2012 World Surf Life Saving Championships competing in the iron woman, board, ski and surf race championship events.
The championships are held every two years and attract entrants from across the world. Up to 6000 surf life savers are expected to compete in this weekend’s competition.
Getting right behind Higgison in her quest to be number one are two local lawyers, John McGuire and Grant Hodgson. Both have been following her progress through the junior ranks and into the open category.
Like most lawyers, the pair rarely see eye to eye on matters, but both agree they have been impressed by the dedication and determination shown by Higgison who is often the first to arrive at daily group training sessions and the last to leave.
For Mr McGuire, his regular morning swim alongside the young iron woman is a real eye opener about how determined an elite athlete needs to be.
“I am simply amazed by Kirsty’s discipline at training,” Mr McGuire said. “While Kirsty was doing her HSC exams last month she continued to swim every morning for two hours and then was out paddling her kayak or surf ski after school for another hour and a half.”
Grant Hodgson, a partner at Marriott Oliver, said that his firm had an association with the Higgison family going back several generations to the Haigh and Ellison families.
“It’s a pleasure to be able to assist a member of the younger generation from these respected Nowra families,” he said.
Higgison hopes her immediate goal of being an elite surf-lifesaver will develop her paddling skills with a view to representing Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games in kayaking.
Interestingly her swimming coach, Julie Dart, also coached her mother Karen through her junior development days before she went on to win a silver medal in the 100 metre butterfly at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics games.
Ms Dart said she saw many similarities between mother and daughter.
“Like her mother, Kirsty has that rare determination to do even more than her coach demands,” Dart said.
“Both are as tough as nails, and just like her mother, Kirsty is prepared to overcome the challenges of training in a country town.”
Dart said the absence of heated swimming pools 30 years ago often meant Karen trained in the Shoalhaven River, which was warmer than Nowra Pool in November.
“Kirsty’s challenge is a lack of experienced lifesaving and kayaking coaches, which means travelling long distances every weekend,” she said.
“I have no doubt she will overcome this challenge to represent her country. How proud we would all be to have both mother and daughter represent Australia.”
Higgison is hoping her present run of great form continues at the world championship. She recently competed at the second round of the Sydney Water Premiership at Thirroul where conditions were testing.
Competitors were forced to negotiate brutal four-to-six foot surf conditions which had forced officials to cancel the morning’s Nipper events.
Higgison was up to the challenge, claiming impressive results.
She took out the open women’s board final beating home a hot field that included London Olympian and Nutri-Grain Iron Woman series champion Naomi Flood.
Kirsty backed up with a close third place in the open iron-woman final.
The Sydney Water Premiership is recognised as one of the premier surf sport events on the east coast, drawing elite competitors from the Illawarra, Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle and as far afield as the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
Many of the high profile Nutri-Grain Iron Series competitors compete, including Candice Falzon, Tara Coleman, Hannah Minogue and Higgison’s idol Naomi Flood.
The event was the first time Higgison has had the opportunity to race against Flood in an iron woman event.
Kirsty’s drive has always been to emulate her idol’s sporting career by reaching the pinnacle of iron woman racing and then transitioning back into sprint kayaking to represent Australia at an Olympics games.
Higgison is well-positioned in the overall Premiership Series Iron Woman point score, sitting second on 12 points after two rounds, behind overall leader Candice Falzon on 14 points, and in front of Flood on 10 points.
The next round of the Sydney Water Premiership Series will be held at North Wollongong on November 24 followed by the final at Warilla on December 1.
This event will also double as the second round of the national SIQS Iron Woman series.