Pool lifeguard recognised with national award

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Winning the lifeguard of the year award has been a humbling experience for Michelle Tetzlaff.

The Wanaka Recreation Centre pool crew member was announced as the winner at the 2019 Aquatics Awards held in Queenstown last week.

Her family was “very proud” of her achievement, with her son phoning from Auckland “over the moon”, Ms Tetzlaff said.

The award also included a scholarship for her to study for a level 4 senior lifeguard qualification, something she had been hoping to do for a while: “So now I have that scholarship to do it”.

Ms Tetzlaff had a “love of water”, beginning her career at Wairau hot pools, north of Auckland, when she was 16.

She began working at the old Wanaka Community Pool after moving from Auckland in 2011.

Working at the new pool was “nice and flash” but for her the community was still the same.

“That is what I love the most, the community feeling that we have here.”

Ms Tetzlaff was “fairly cheeky” while doing her job, but enjoyed each day.

“I just love to interact and make it enjoyable for all the customers that come here.”

A talented competitive swimmer, she was chosen for the national development squad ahead of the 2000 Olympics.

Later she coached her son to the national junior championships two years running.

Queenstown Lakes District Council sport and recreation manager Simon Battrick said Ms Tetzlaff fully deserved the national recognition of this award.

“As we were putting Michelle’s nomination together, words like friendly, helpful, professional, dedicated, respected and supportive kept cropping up.

“It’s clear that customers and colleagues alike truly appreciate her work ethic and positive attitude,” he said.

Wanaka Recreation Centre manager Jason Lawless said Ms Tetzlaff was able to build a rapport with people while delivering safety messages.

“Michelle does it with a smile and has a way of connecting so everybody feels safe but also contributes to their own safety – from our point of view she is a star”.