Olympic star happy to invest in safety
Eamon Sullivan still remembers his first and only day as a surf lifesaving nipper.
"I swam into a bunch of stingers and cried and went home and never went back," he recalls.
Today, the Olympic swimmer may be better known for his strokes in the pool, but surrounded by a throng of excited surf lifesavers at Leighton beach yesterday, he received a hero's welcome.
Fremantle Surf Lifesaving Club's 550 nippers were decked out in fluorescent yellow rash vests, the first in Australia to don the regulation uniforms.
The high-visibility attire will soon become compulsory for nippers to make them more noticeable in the water.
Sullivan, along with his three co-owners of restaurant Bib and Tucker, formally donated the new threads to beaming youngsters at a beach ceremony yesterday.
Although his first experience in the surf may not have gone to plan, the Olympic star said he had kept a close relationship with surf clubs.
He said drownings at sporting events, including the Ironman, drew attention to the need for safety measures in sports competitions.
"The drills they do are quite dangerous," he said.
"Obviously with the surf skis and the boards, if they hit their heads and they do go underwater it is pretty hard to see," he said.
The club's junior development director Chris Wilson said he had strongly supported more noticeable uniforms for nippers and the outfits were an important development in junior surf lifesaving.