Carla Bull runs into Hervey Bay SLSC history books
IT MIGHT be two weeks since her historic beach sprint but Carla Bull is still riding the wave of emotion.
The 13-year-old is believed to be Hervey Bay Surf Life Saving Club's first ever medallist at the Aussies, which were held at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.
The Fraser Coast Anglican College student said she was immensely proud to bring home a medal, but surf life saving had not always been her preferred sport.
She took up the sport when she was five, but thought it would only ever be a hobby.
"I always thought I'd do it for fun, but in recent years I've been getting more serious in it," she said outside of the club's Torquay base.
"I liked competing in it, I did pretty good so I kept training more."
It paid off, as the self-confessed "beachie" made history.
"I like the beach events a lot more. I like boards but hate swimming," she said with a laugh.
"I do swimming in the smaller comps (our region) but state and Aussies I don't swim. The southerners are really strong in the water."
A detail most casual observers may overlook as a factor is the texture of the sand.
The sand at Hervey Bay's beaches differs greatly with that at the Sunshine Coast, which can ultimately affect running style and speed.
"The sand was a lot softer than here so it was harder, it's harder to run," she said.
"You don't get as much push (off the ground) as easy, you sink in a bit more. You try to be really light but with a lot of force."
Carla needed only to finish in the top four to progress through the heats.
While adjusting to the beach's condition plays a crucial role, it's the race start that gets the most attention.
"In 14s at state you're allowed a false start but there wasn't any warning at Aussies so I was really worried about that," she said.
"My starts were a bit slower because I was worried.
"The heats, my starts were pretty slow but had a harder run. By semis I knew I just had to go."
The extra training with dad David paid off, as she earned her way into the final.
She recalls that as she lined up for her final she looked across at her fellow competitors.
"I was trying to sort out who's who," she said.
"I knew the NSW state champ was there. I was really nervous."
A good start and she was off, working her way through to the lead as she reached the halfway point.
There was a moment when she felt it could be her lucky day, but she remained focused on getting the job done.
Just metres from the finish Cronulla's Isabellah Walker found just enough to pass Carla and take gold.
After a pang of disappointment in missing out on the gold medal, Carla was ecstatic and already thinking about her next chance at the Aussies.
"I was really happy; it felt really good," she said.
"I want the gold next year."
BACK TO WORK
The Aussies are a memory but the silver medal is a permanent reminder of her place in Hervey Bay's sporting history.
Carla is back at school but gets to enjoy a few weeks off training, which usually includes beach and fitness training and other workouts.
The Aussies are the highest level of competition at which she can compete until under-17s, but she has already dreamed of representing her country at the World Life Saving Championships in 2018.