Mariah Jones at Greenmount beach.
Mariah Jones at Greenmount beach. John Gass

Big hopes rest with lifesaver Mariah

THE Australian Lifesaving Team has high hopes Tweed's Mariah Jones could redeem the squad after a devastating defeat by New Zealand at last year's World Life Saving Championships.

Jones, 20, from Tweed Heads seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders, with team officials praising her ability and anticipating a show-stopping performance from the young athlete.

"The inclusion of Olympic swimmer Napoleon and Mariah Jones could just be the X factors Australia is looking for," the squad said in a statement.

And the flattering compliments just kept on coming.

"...emerging indigenous international lifesaving swimmer Mariah Jones could be just the answer the Australian Life Saving Team is after as it looks to wrest back the coveted tag as the world's best team," the statement continued.

But despite the sudden spiral into the spotlight, Jones was cool, calm and collected.

"I really didn't know I was going to get picked," she said.

"I've been on development teams before, but nothing like this."

When asked what her goals were now that she's joined the national team, Jones said she simply wanted to perform to the best of her ability.

"It's not really to win," she said.

"But that would be really awesome."

Jones was introduced to lifesaving by her father Rod when she was just four, and has been making waves since.

"I was brought into the sport by my dad and I've really loved it since then," she said.

"I just love the surf. As soon as we got an opportunity to get in the water I was there. But my dad was just as shocked as I was that I made the team."

Jones, a former Australian under-19 surf race champion, said she was keen to represent Australia and excited to "just go and compete somewhere new".

The Beach to Bush program ambassador was also a member of the victorious Australian U20 team that won the rescue development team point score last year.

Australian team head coach Danny Short said despite attracting a strong group of life savers, only hard work would pave the road to victory.

"The world is getting faster, and we have to keep up. Only hard work will guarantee we get there," he said.

The next World Life Saving Championship will be held in France in September 2014.

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