ANYONE that knows Kirsty Higgison, knows she is the eternal optimist.
So despite the COVID-19 pandemic derailing her 2019-20 season in the surf, the Nowra-Culburra SLSC product still took plenty of positives away from the campaign, which all started when she left Surfers Paradise and joined Northcliffe in the off-season.
"Change is as good as a holiday - I felt the fresh start helped with motivation and my drive," Higgison said.
"Being in an environment with such quality female athletes, I believe it took me out of my comfort zone and set me up to become stronger and faster.
"As such, I physically felt fast and stronger than I did the last few seasons.
"I (touch wood) didn't have any season hindering injuries or illnesses - I felt I was performing better than expected, thanks to my constant training workload.
"Sadly, I felt it just didn't show in competition.
"This really challenged me mentally, knowing how well I was performing in training and not getting the results I felt I deserved."
As Higgison alludes to, she didn't secure the results she had hoped and finished the series in 12th place overall.
"I'm happy with how much effort I put into each and every event," the 26-year-old said.
"After a string of results that weren't up to my expectation, it really hurt mentally.
"I was nowhere near content with 12th place and really lost a lot of self-belief.
"I know how strong and fit I was but racing in the five rounds, all under one-foot of swell and not being able to showcase any of my surf skills, was tough."
Since the completion of the series, which Higgison finished second in 2016, she has had time to reflect.
"I felt all the work and training I had done would have set me up for such a strong season," she said.
"We train up to 15 sessions a week, with a mix of running, gym, swim, board, ski and ironperson training - I'd say physically, I'm fit.
"But I need to improve on my speed off the start and self-belief.
"After a few bad results, I also needed to work on my mental strength heading into the series' events.
"Adding to that mental pressure is the challenge of changing clubs.
"While a fresh start is great, finding your feet and heading into the first few competitions under the new cap, I feel can be tough.
"I'm just lucky I have a great support network and club."
After putting this disappointment behind her, the former St Johns student was primed for a strong showing at the Queensland state championships and Australian titles - which were both unfortunately cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.
"I was really looking forward to flipping things around and finishing off the season strong at state and Aussies but unfortunately didn't get the chance - I was extremely disappointed when they were cancelled," she said.
"We were in the middle of a really hard training block and I was stoked with how I was performing.
"I was starting to get my self-belief back and was really looking forward to finishing off the season better than I started.
"It was such a bizarre feeling - one minute you're in the thick of training and the next your season is over."
While the season had many up and downs, Higgison intends to use these as motivation to take her performances to the next level during the 2020-21 series.
"Overall, I'm happy with my decision to have moved clubs and provide myself with a great opportunity to challenge and better myself both physically and mentally," she said.
"As disappointed as I am with my results, I can't dwell on what has been.
"It was a challenging season and one full of personal growth and development - which continues in the off-season, as I have plenty to work on.
"Performance-wise, having that explosive speed, especially off the start is so important.
"Catching runners in the ocean and also making sure my leg muscles are strong to prevent injury.
"Mentally, I'll be working on self-belief and letting go of things I can't control.
"Looking ahead, my main goal [for next season] is turning up to every event with a smile on my face, having self-confidence and focusing on just myself and my love for the sport.
"Of course I'd love to win the series and that will always be my goal, but trying not putting so much pressure on myself and enjoying the racing scene will be a priority."
In the meantime, Higgison is trying to juggle her work, university and training life, in this current coronavirus lockdown climate.
"I'm living on the Gold Coast still and juggling work (lifeguarding), study to be a teacher and training to keep fit," Higgison, who had to cancel her off-season surfing trip, said.
"I have scheduled some sort of physical activity in at least once or twice a day.
"At the moment it has been a mixture of running, pilates, yoga and gym, such as home workouts, ocean swims and lots of surfing.
"It's been nice to listen to my body and be a bit flexible with training, especially at the moment with all that is going on - until things change, I'll just keep up this routine and do my bit for society."