After racing to an Australian gold medal, Bailey Krstevski is looking forward to taking on the world's best after being selected to compete at the 2022 Lifesaving World Championships.
The event is scheduled to take place in Italy next September, officials optimistic travel restrictions will have eased by then, allowing the team to fly to Europe.
The 2020 world championships were cancelled due to coronavirus.
Krstevski spent the summer focused on qualifying for the competition, the swimmer putting in the hours in the pool and the ocean to ensure he put his best foot forward for selection.
The results quickly followed, the Warilla-Barrack Point athlete taking out the under 17 surf race at the NSW titles before winning gold in the event at the Australian Championships.
"It has been a goal of mine for a while so it felt pretty good to make the team," Krstevski said.
"I competed at state and went well in the swim then at nationals I won the swim as well, so the results all added up for me.
"I've been training hard with coach James Greathead at Wests Illawarra, he's been pushing me pretty hard and got me through the COVID period.
"Then my coaches at Warilla-Barrack Point, Kirk Allen and Damien Sheedy, they've helped me with my surf swimming."
While he has spent multiple years racing with and against some of his teammates, Krstevski's attempts to get to know the rest of the squad have been thwarted by coronavirus.
Planned camps have had to be cancelled, with the athletes instead connecting via Zoom.
With more than a year to go until the competition, it's hoped the team will eventually have the chance to meet in person.
Given this is his first Australian selection, Krstevski isn't certain of what to expect in Italy, but he knows he has a year to ensure he's in peak shape for the competition.
"Going to Italy will be a dream come true, it will be a once in a lifetime experience," he said.
"I've never been to Italy before, so I want to go over there do my best.
"I know a lot about the Australian athletes, but not much about any of the other countries."
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