Growing up on Port Beach in North Fremantle, John Summers has been a respected and influential member of Fremantle SLSC for over 20 years, holding board positions for 15 of those. John was also an important contributor to SLSWA’s Wesfarmers Emergency Response Team, particularly in its early days as a founding member and one of the team’s first trainers.

As our 2019 Assessor of the Year, we asked John some questions about his time in surf where he shared with us about his very first ski, handmade by his father, and how he won gold in an event where everyone else raced in the wrong direction. Read on to hear more about John’s story.

When & where did your surf lifesaving journey begin? I joined Fremantle to get my son into nippers because he was bored with pool swimming lessons. I also wanted to get into ski paddling myself, after a history of competing in marathon K2 and K1.

I had some exposure to surf skis which my father had made. However, they had a plywood top and a canvas bottom, and I think they came with two of every animal on the planet.

What is your most memorable moment during surf lifesaving? There are heaps, but, I will always remember winning a gold medal in a single ski race at Secret Harbour… No one had bothered to listen to the briefing, and followed the much faster initial leader around the wrong course!

Describe the perfect weekend? A big northwester, the internet and mobile phone networks are down, and everyone is at Trigg Beach. Leighton is empty except for a Rescue Water Craft (RWC) course that is finishing, so the drivers are competent and happy, and there is no damaged equipment. My son meets me on the beach and says, “I am cooking tea, I also bought a nice red wine and no, I don’t need anything done”.

What is the best thing about your club? Hot water showers after a four-hour RWC morning training. Also, the mix of lifesaving, education, realistic competition and social interaction.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? I am taller than I look.

What does Surf Life Saving represent? The power of association with genuine volunteers who care and are prepared to give more than they receive.

Which do you prefer to drive, IRBs or Jet skis? Jet skis

What was the first sport you ever did? Swimming in the Swan River. My parents were big believers in the need to be able to swim.

Dogs or cats? Why would there be an option for cats?

If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? It wouldn’t be kale.