Eighteen-year-old lifesaver Daniel Smith was recently named the 2018 Surf Coast Shire Australia Day Award Young Citizen of the Year, in recognition of his dedication to keeping his community safe.
As a member of the Jan Juc Surf Life Saving Club, Daniel has gained over 50 lifesaving certificates over the years and spent 164 hours on voluntary patrol last season. Despite his young age, he mentors and trains other members of the club, as well as being a volunteer with the Torquay Marine Rescue (TMRS) and Bellbrae CFA.
As well as all his volunteering, he also finds time to play hockey, representing Geelong at regional competitions and is currently in his second year as a carpentry apprentice, completing his certificate 111 in civil construction. Here’s his inspirational lifesaving story:
Current Club: Jan Juc Surf Life Saving Club
How long have you been involved in lifesaving?
I have been around Jan Juc SLSC since l was born, thanks to my parent’s involvement in the club. I started Nippers as a 6-year-old in under 8’s and completed the Nipper program, as well as my Surf Rescue Certificate, which led onto my Bronze Medallion. I have completed numerous amounts of awards since this time, a total of 51.
What made you become involved in lifesaving?
My dad Peter joined the surf club when he was young and has had a strong association with the club as an active member, a committee member and now a life member of the club. My parent’s social network was formed through the relationships with other members at the club and their children, hence my connection to the surf club and involvement in the Nipper program. My dad was involved in supporting the Nipper program at the club and I loved the water, so spent all my days at the beach.
What are some of your responsibilities at your club?
I spend most of my time at the club patrolling Jan Juc beach. I love being involved with the IRBs and assisting with water safety and events that require IRB support. I also participate as a volunteer of the club, assisting with fundraising at our major events – Bells Bash and Danger 1K. I support training new members of the club, both young and older members and have been involved in the SRC and Bronze Medallion camps run by the club. I have also been actively involved in the Nipper program over recent years, assisting an age group.
What do you enjoy most about lifesaving?
I enjoy helping people and teaching new skills. I love to patrol the beach and help others learn about beach safety. I also enjoy being involved in IRB activity and supporting others to learn new skills in this area.
How do you encourage others to get involved with lifesaving and volunteering?
I assist people to understand what the club has to offer and talk about my experiences and what I get out of it.
What is your greatest achievement in lifesaving so far?
I was awarded Junior Male of the Year in 2017 at Jan Juc SLSC. I was also recognised for patrolling 167.5 hours by LSV in that year. I was the recipient of the Surf Coast Shire Male Youth Award in April 2017 for my Community Participation and the recipient of the Australia Day Male Youth Citizen of the Year for the Surf Coast Shire in 2018.
What types of rescues have you been involved in?
I have been involved in numerous rescues. I did 13 rescues in 2017 alone and 7 were undertaken when driving the IRB. I have undertaken many first aids and rescues that I have gained knowledge and experience from. I have been involved with shark sightings and a patient that had hypoxia. All this training and learning pays off when you change someone’s life.
What’s been the most surprising part of being a volunteer with your club?
I have found that the skills I have learnt have helped me with other roles that I have taken on. My knowledge of the surf and water has certainly been an asset to me whilst assisting with Torquay Marine Rescue Service. My confidence in developing the skills to present information to a group of people and train specific skills has grown through my assistant training role at Jan Juc SLSC. The opportunity to assist with events has been strengthened as a member of the club.
When you’re not lifesaving, what keeps you busy?
I love spending time volunteering at Torquay Marine Rescue and Bellbrae CFA. I also continue to play hockey.
What was the best advice you were ever given and who gave it to you?
I would not say there is best advice because I have had advice from many different people over a wide range of activities. Most of my good advice comes from my dad’s mistakes that he has passed onto me. They are little things that will keep you a bit safer when you’re on the beach or in the water. One of the main things that my dad said to me, when I was crewing, was that if a wave is going to break over you then don’t put your face up to look at the wave as you pass through the wave. If you do, it feels like someone is slapping you in the face.