Surf lifesaver Madison Kidd has a hectic schedule when competing for the Black Fins, but it’s her non-stop drive that’s propelling her to the top. 

Madison Kidd’s decision to dive from the sand into the pool has seen her smashing New Zealand surf life saving records.

Initially, Kidd was competing in the beach sprint and flag events for Whangamatā Surf Life Saving Club, and was making New Zealand junior teams. 

But the 26-year-old wanted more, the hard worker determined to keep her place in the Black Fins through her simple competitive desire to earn more points for her team.

Kidd even put her cookie business on hold so she could chase her dreams offshore at the world surf life saving champs.

“If I could provide more points for the team, that meant there was a better likelihood of me getting selected for teams, which was the ultimate goal,” Kidd explains. 

She went from doing two individual events to five, adding pool events to her competing schedule. 

*Life’s a beach for busy Black Fin
*Saving a life all in a long day’s work in surf

The pool rescue events involve carrying manikins through the water, and swimming under obstacles – helping to simulate potential rescue situations. 

Kidd holds the New Zealand record for the 50m swim with fins and the 100m manikin tow with fins, as well as a handful of other team records.

Both individual records were set last year, the manikin tow at the life saving world championships in Italy, Kidd’s second world champs. She competed in the 2018 edition, with 2020’s event cancelled due to Covid. 

“In 2018, the pool was still something I was trying to get confidence in,” Kidd says, putting more focus into swimming after lockdown. 

“Whereas it was awesome going to Italy in 2022, knowing that I had done all the work and I was in the best position I could be in and was one of the best there.” 

In 2018, Kidd’s weekly training schedule consisted of swimming four to five times a week, as well as a similar workload for running. 

But in 2019, she moved to a swimming club and once lockdowns had been lifted, started swimming nine times a week. 

Her training now consists of seven two-hour swims a week, four gym sessions and two cycling sessions. Her running training pauses until the world champs come around, and she picks up sprints and flags again. 

She manages to balance this with her full-time job as a customer success manager at Safe365 – a digital health and safety company.  

Kidd (second from left) and the 2022 Black Fins in Italy. Photo: supplied

Surf life saving started for Kidd when she was seven, her family wanting the kids to be safe in the water during holidays in Whangamatā. 

The eldest of four, Kidd jokes that having her and her three younger brothers in nippers was a good way for her parents to get them all out of the house for some peace and quiet. 

She started racing when she was 12, but also played football, touch and athletics, as well as 10 years of ballet. 

Kidd had her own cookie business during 2022, her love of baking and cooking passed down by her mum, who’s a caterer. 

She had to pause the business when she went overseas to Italy for competition (the silver lining was in visiting the home of her favourite cuisine). 

“At the moment it’s so hard with all the training and working to try keep it going,” Kidd says of the business, The Sugar Hit. 

“But that will be something I move into when I finish this and have a bit more time.” 

Kidd also somehow manages to find time to knit jumpers and cardigans, but right now she’s on holiday in Bali – her first holiday in four years that hasn’t been connected to surf life saving. 

“It’s good, I don’t need to lug my fins around everywhere,” she laughs. 

The next big event on her calendar is the Australian Pool Rescue Championships, the competition where she broke the 50m New Zealand record last year. 

Kidd’s pool training ramped up after Covid lockdowns eased. Photo: madikidd (Instagram)

While her ideal travel destination is anywhere with a beach, Kidd’s competition preference is now the pool races. 

“I’ve put so much time into it and so much energy and effort to try and get to where I am. I think I wouldn’t be in the Black Fins for this long if I was not in the pool,” she says. 

“But then it would be flags after that – I enjoy racing other people, and it’s quite technical so it’s things you can work on a lot. 

“Also it’s just different when you go to the beach after being in the pool for a few days – it’s a team sport so you’re racing with someone else doing the flag events too.” 

During surf life saving competitions, the highly-driven Kidd is often the only competitor who does individual events in the pool, as well as sprints and flags on the beach. 

“When I train throughout the week, I do all my swim sessions and then on the Friday and Saturday, I’ll run. So trying to run under fatigue and getting used to that and what it will feel like at worlds,” she explains. 

“But also I enjoy it so much, so when I finish the pool, I think I’ve gotten really good at being able to leave the pool and switch off and get ready for the beach side of it too. I really just enjoy doing sprints and flags so that’s why I can keep doing it on top of everything else.” 

Her enjoyment and love of the sport has kept her going for many years, even when there are generally big levels of dropping out. Especially around the age of 18 for girls, as people leave for uni or go overseas. 

“It is hard at that age for people to stay involved because you don’t have the friends there and if you’re not from a big club, that can be hard too,” Kidd says. 

Her Whangamatā club keeps growing, with their pool rescue crew mostly girls, from the ages of 11 to 18, which Kidd is loving.

“It’s awesome to see and you just hope they keep carrying it through,” she says. 

Her commitment to her Black Fins dream has seen her reach heights she didn’t necessarily expect, but Kidd is still full of praise for those who got her there. 

“I’ve had a huge support network who have helped me transition from being a runner to a swimmer and having lots of people have belief in what I can do,” she says. 

“But at the end of the day, I do it because I enjoy it so much. 

“I’ve always said to myself, the time when I stop will be the time when I stop enjoying it.” 

Merryn Anderson is a sports writer for LockerRoom. She has a Bachelor in Communications from the University of Waikato.

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