Piper Asquith was extremely nervous. She was about to sign up for Kurrawa Nippers.
A daunting prospect, considering the ocean frightened her to the point where she couldn't go past her knees in the surf.
But, with her parents' encouragement, and with a close friend already in Nippers, Piper signed on the dotted line and presented for her first day.
It was daunting. The ocean was loud, fast and strong, and at one of the first training sessions, the coach had to encourage Piper into the water and hold her hand to help her pick up sand under the roiling water.
Through constant encouragement from the coaches and the friends Piper was quickly making, her confidence grew. Board training sessions were one of Piper's highlights; they helped her confidence immensely and her trust in her coaches meant that Piper was quickly reaching outside her comfort zone.
"Rhett was great with board training," said Piper. "I always trusted him when he would take me out on his board. Even though I was initially really nervous, I didn't want to say no to anything! Having Bonnie (Bonnie Hancock) there was amazing too - I still can't believe I got to train with a Surf Champion!"
Day by day, Piper started improving dramatically not just with her confidence but with her athleticism and stamina for the events. All this hard work culminated when Piper was chosen to be a part of team events at carnivals - a huge mark of respect. She was also chosen to swim up with the Under 11's at Gold Coast City Titles - something she was extremely proud of.
"I just loved the whole atmosphere of the carnivals," said Piper. "I was so nervous about performing but excited as well and the fact that I got to swim with all my friends made it that much better. I just loved being around there - even if all my events were done I wanted to stick around until the end of the day!"
Now that her first season as a Kurrawa Nipper is now over, Piper is excitedly looking forward to returning later in the year and honing her skills.
"I already can't wait to get back into the surf and I'm hoping to learn a few new skills next season - like body surfing and being able to use a fibreglass board."
Piper's dedication and commitment to Nippers (she sometimes travelled 45 minutes to make a training session) hasn't gone unnoticed with coaches impressed at how far she has come; from not being able to get out past her knees to smashing carnivals with her team mates in the space of a season, Piper has shown that anybody can get out there and become a Nipper.