In a remarkable display of courage and dedication, Franklin Pool and Leisure’s Samantha Larson, Aquatics Coordinator and Taylor Harvey, Senior Lifeguard, have been honoured with prestigious awards for their outstanding efforts. Samantha and Taylor have demonstrated unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety of beachgoers, and their achievements are a testament to their skill and bravery.
Samantha Larson has earned two significant accolades: named the Surf Lifeguard of the Year at the Northern Region Awards and achieved the prestigious title of New Zealand’s Surf Lifeguard of the Year at the New Zealand National Awards. Samantha’s remarkable contributions to surf lifesaving throughout the season are truly commendable. Not only did she play a pivotal role in qualifying 12 new lifeguards for Kariaotahi, but she also dedicated over 100 hours to patrolling the beach while simultaneously serving as Franklin Pool and Leisure’s Aquatics Coordinator and actively participating in IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) racing.
One of the standout moments of this recognition is the courageous rescue mission led by the Kariaotahi Surf Lifesaving team. The team’s swift response and remarkable rescue operation saved the lives of three individuals who were in distress in pounding waves. From the squad’s initial callout to safely returning all three patients to the beach, it took roughly 15 minutes.
This exceptional feat led to the team being honoured with the Rescue of the Year award. Taylor Harvey’s crucial role in this operation earned him and the team the title Surf Rescue of the Year in the Northern Region Awards.
The rescue unfolded when the Kariaotahi search and rescue squad received reports of a 13-year-old struggling in the water. The squad wasted no time and quickly sprang into action. Their prompt response and ability to operate effectively under pressure played a pivotal role in preventing a potential tragedy. It is evident from the citation for the May 2022 rescue that the outcome could have been tragic without the swift and efficient response of the Kariaotahi SAR squad.
“We’re incredibly proud of Samantha and Taylor for their remarkable achievements. Their dedication to water safety at Franklin Pool and Leisure and in the broader lifeguarding community sets a high standard for all. These awards are a testament to their unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of our members, guests and the entire community,” said Lisa Hirini, Venue Manager at Franklin Pool and Leisure.
In a year marked by considerable challenges, including the aftermath of flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle, Surf Life Saving Northern Region Chief Executive Officer Matt Williams highlights the importance of acknowledging volunteers like Samantha and Taylor, who have consistently risen to the occasion, ensuring the safety of beachgoers despite the challenging circumstances.
Samantha and Taylor’s heroism and commitment to water safety truly deserve the recognition they have received, inspiring us all to prioritise safety in aquatic environments.
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