Canada's Richard MacCauley yearned for warmer shores when he left his wintry Nova Scotian home for a six-week lifeguard exchange program in Wollongong.
Little did he know he'd be in for the summer scorcher that hit the Illawarra on Tuesday.
"I've never felt anything like that [heat] before," the 22-year-old admitted yesterday, saying it was a far cry from the minus 8 degrees forecast for his home town of Halifax for the same day.
Mr MacCauley is the latest recruit in a lifeguard program that has been running between Wollongong City Council and the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service for more than 20 years.
He arrived in Australia on December 12 and began work at Austinmer Beach 10 days later.
Mr MacCauley said he had fallen in love with Wollongong's beaches and its people in the 2½ weeks he had been on the job.
"I love it here, especially being able to surf every day with consistent waves," he said.
Mr MacCauley's time in the water has not been without incident: "I got introduced to bluebottles the hard way," Mr MacCauley said, admitting to more than one sting.
"We don't have them in Canada. Luckily the sting went away quite quickly."
Council recreation services manager Jason Foye said the exchange program gave Canadian and Australian lifeguards the chance to learn new techniques and skills in a different environment.
"Our lifeguards get the chance to work on Nova Scotia's lakes, while the Canadian recruit gets a taste of our often heavy surf conditions," Mr Foye said.