Brayden Woodford has returned to Australian shores with a swag of medals around his neck following a dominant showing at the 2023 New Zealand Pool Rescue Championships.
The three-day titles - held in Auckland over the weekend - is the highest level of pool rescue competition in New Zealand and featured competitors from visiting countries, including Australia. Participants were asked to undergo a series of "pool rescue" scenarios, including with obstacles and manikins.
Proudly donning the green and gold, Corrimal's Woodford was in red-hot form during the championships, securing victories in the under-19s men's 200-metre super lifesaver (in a personal best time of 2:19.16), 200m swim with obstacles and the 100m manikin tow events.
Bulli Surf Life Saving Club's rising star also claimed silver in the U/19s 100m rescue medley manikin and 50m swim with fins events, and the open men's 4x50m obstacle relay and 4x50m medley relay.
"I'm pretty happy with how I went over in New Zealand. I was a bit off the pace for where I want to be, but I was still happy with some of the results," the 17-year-old told the Mercury.
"It's nice to be back home. I'd been travelling for the past month, I was just off the back of a trip to Canada with the Royal Life Saving (Association Australia) and we were racing over there. I'd just got back last week and then had to travel over to New Zealand.
"I only had a few days' rest so I was struggling a little bit. But I got back in (the pool) and I wasn't too far off my PBs."
Woodford's great form in Auckland continues an outstanding 2023 for the 17-year-old.
Highlights have included winning three gold medals at the 2023 Australian Pool Rescue Championships and representing his country in the "Battle of the Tasman", which saw Aussie and New Zealand lifesavers go head-to-head in a series of ocean events and pool races.
It should be enough for the teen to kick up his feet for a little while - however, Woodford hasn't stopped moving since returning to the Illawarra this week.
"I don't have much competition until swim season starts back up, but I've already done two (training) sessions this morning because I was feeling really sore last week," he said.
"I just want to get straight back into it and try build my fitness back up to where I was before. Hopefully I can keep getting better, stronger and quicker."
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