Waverley College and the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club (BSBLSC) are two organisations that share a long history in the community, essentially growing up together, forging bonds of friendship and service that run deep and proud. We spoke to two Life Members of the BSBLSC, Waverley Old Boys Nick Nezval (1984) and Scott Laney (1986), about how their experiences have shaped their dedication to giving back to the community and created lasting personal connections.
For Nick Nezval, life at Waverley and involvement at BSBLSC were intertwined from the beginning. “Myself and a lot of the other Waverley boys were involved with the surf lifesaving movement, it was just what you did,” he recalled. “My thing at school was swimming and some of my best memories are CAS swimming nights at the North Sydney Olympic Pool. There was something special about that North Sydney amphitheatre that added a real magic to Friday night CAS swimming”.
Nick and his two brothers, Marty (1986) and Adam (1987) went through Waverley, as did Nick’s son Daniel (2018). Scott Laney and his brother Brooke (1988), as it turned out, both had daughters. “It’d be great if Waverley admitted females, maybe one day,” Scott said. “But my daughter is currently in Nippers, so the surf lifesaving thing can be passed on.”
“I started at Waverley College in Year 5 in 1979,” recalls Scott. “It was the last year of the boarding school which I was happy about because my parents used to threaten to send me there, even though we were local.” Scott’s father, Tony, was a Bondi Lifesaver, receiving his Bronze Medallion in 1958 and remaining an active member his whole life. “To my father’s chagrin I didn’t like doing Nippers and gave it up. Even though I loved the beach and was here every day, I didn’t do lifesaving again until I was about 16,” he said. “At 16, I guess I developed a sense of wanting to give back, and was here all the time anyway. Growing up, I lived just across the road and could see our apartment from the beach.”
He joined the BSBLSC in 1985 and has been a member ever since
Surf lifesaving is now offered as an official summer sports option at Waverley College. While membership is strong, Scott says it’s been difficult to get the numbers from school students. “There’s so much competition these days from other co-curricular and out of school activities, so it’s great to see surf lifesaving growing every year.” he said. “I know it can seem like a big ask, standing around looking after people on the beach for four or five hours, but you get back more than double what you give. The link between the College and the Surf Club is very strong and will certainly continue.”
“In the same way that being a Waverley Old Boy creates a connection, or camaraderie that’s just there, I’ve got lifelong friends from Waverley and it’s like an unwritten law that your friendship always stands no matter what. We’ve competed through good and bad times, we had good and bad times at the school but we’ll always remain friends and Waverley and the Surf Club have been central to that.”
Nick, still a regular attendee at 1st XV home games and currently a swim coach at Waverley talks about the nuanced, unbreakable bond between Waverlians. “Certainly in my time, no matter if we were winning games that season or not, Waverley was every other school’s danger game,” he said. “There was a bit of the wild child or something, a unified spirit of the Waverley boys and it doesn’t finish in Year 12. I didn’t realise it when I was at school, but it’s a thing you take with you for life.”