Surfing sensation Lucy Darragh attends camp 2 of the NSWIS Ready | Pursu32 RAS Talent Program at the new National Snowsports Facility in Jindabyne.

Lucy Darragh started surfing the waves as a seven-year-old in her home town of Gerringong, idolising her neighbour, the three times World Women’s Champion Sally Fitzgibbons.

“She’s a big inspiration,” Darragh said. “She’s such a nice person and always helps the younger ‘groms’ so it’s really good. I get to surf with her sometimes and she’s so nice.

“I live really close to the beach so I can surf and train as much as I want.”

Fast forward eight years and Darragh is on her own journey to becoming a professional surfer after emerging victorious in the U16 girls’ division of the Taj’s Small Fries in Yallingup, WA in January this year.

“It’s definitely one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had and it was my goal to take it out as soon as I heard about the event,” said Darragh.

Supporting her on the journey is the NSW Institute of Sport and the Regional Academies of Sport (RAS) through the NSWIS Ready Pursu32 RAS Talent Program, which targets regional NSW athletes, providing opportunities, exposure to high performance environments and quality expertise.

“I definitely learned a lot [from the program] about what it takes to become an elite athlete and just about the right habits and training and eating and just everything about being an elite athlete,” the teenager said.

“I’ve definitely tried to take all the advice from the coaches about healthy eating and training as much as I can and then having a plan for this year and next year.”

Lucy Darragh

Darragh travelled from Gerringong to Jindabyne last week to participate in the second camp of the NSWIS Ready Pursu32 RAS Talent Program taking place at the new National Snowsports Training Facility.

“It’s really cool,” she said. “There’s so much to learn about and it’s such a cool experience to be here to see where the elite athletes train and I’ve loved it so far. It’s like definitely a step up in like my getting through the ranks in surfing.”

The goal of the NSWIS Ready Pursu32 RAS Talent Program is to build competency and knowledge; to add value to an athletes’ sport program so that when they are awarded NSW Institute of Sport athlete scholarship; they are NSWIS ready and underpinned by our national vision to #winwell.

She participated in a range of workshops such as Injury prevention for sport with NSWIS Performance Health Manager Sean Cooney, Individual Athlete performance Plan (IAPP) development with Olympian Sami Kennedy Sim; Cooking, food preparation and food hygiene session with NSWIS Winter Sports Program Manager Peter Topalovic and some follow up testing through the AMEDA somatosensory and vestibular equipment with NSWIS PhD and University of Canberra staff.

Darragh was nine when she started competing and credits her work ethic and love for the sport to getting her to where she is today.

“I think I’ve trained really hard, take in what I get from coaching and surfed as much as I can. It’s just such a fun sport. I can surf with my friends and it’s just so much fun.”

She sees more and more girls participating and has even inspired her mum to get on a board.

“It’s one of those sports where you can just get out there and have a go and have fun with your friends. My mum has just started and she loves it even though she’s not that good – she just gets to have fun.”

Lucy Darragh

This year, the teenager is aspiring to go the world championships and in long term wants to get on the world tour, win world championships and go to the Olympics.

“I want to go to Worlds this year. It’s my first year in under 16 and I’ve just got to get enough to win the rankings to qualify.

“I already have 10,000 points and there’s four more 10 ,000s, but I’m winning so far. So hopefully I can win at the end.”

Darragh now trains at ‘Aussie Pipe’ surf break about 45 minutes south of Gerringong.

“It’s like a bit of a more challenging wave, so I love surfing there,” she said.

And after a few hours in the water, she may treat herself with hot chips or a few items from the local bakery.

“I usually get a sausage roll and chocolate milk and the best hot chips are probably at the fish shop because it’s cheaper and less busy. Sally Fitzgibbons lives around the corner.”

Frances Cordaro, NSWIS

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