A leader in and out of the surf
A LEADER in and out of the surf with a desire to serve her community, Kaitlin Smith is a special person.
The Cudgen Headland Surf Lifesaving Club member has been recognised for her years of dedication and hard work to keep swimmers safe in the water at the Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence in Sydney.
Smith earned the honour of being named Patrol Captain of the Year, after a decade patrolling the waters.
A natural leader and lifesaver, Kaitlin took on the role of Patrol Captain when she was just 17.
She has overseen hundreds of preventative actions and managed many critical incidents - including search and rescue call-outs, shark encounters and first aid treatments.
The Cudgen-product said she has had a love of the surf lifesaving scene since she was first exposed to it.
"My mum and dad put me in nippers when I was five," Smith said.
"The pathways to learning about the ocean, competing and then moving into being a lifeguard and being a patrol captain and learning more skills and educating the public is a very big part of my life."
As a senior member of the team, Smith now takes on the responsibility of being a mentor to the next generation of lifesavers coming through.
She said it is a responsibility she takes plenty of pride in.
"I try and make a casual but fun and engaging patrol where everyone feels valued," she said. "We do many practice rescues to ensure we all know our position in the team.
"I try to make everyone feel very valued which I think is the most important part of my job.
"My ambition is to travel to other countries like Thailand and Vietnam to educate people in water safety to keep those communities safe on the beach."