Nella Keenan gets a kick at being considered a trailblazer for women surf lifesavers.
But the 'small role' she played in the bigger picture of striving for gender equality gave the Port Kembla woman even more satisfaction.
Having lived just a 'stone's throw' from Port Kembla beach all her life, Keenan (nee Risi) spends just as much time at the beach as she does at home.
Back in late 1979 the beach loving teenager jumped at the chance to be part of her beloved Port Kembla Surf Club's first ever female surf row squad.
Just over six months later Keenan became one of the first women to achieve her Bronze Medallion in 1980.
This success came on July 7, just six days after new rules introduced by Surf Life Saving Australia's National Council took effect
Earlier in 1980 the national council passed a motion that recommended from 1 July that year, surf clubs across Australia allow women to become active patrolling members, after successfully obtaining their Bronze Medallions.
Keenan was part of a group of eight women from the Illawarra region who flew up to Coffs Harbour, where the water was warmer, to be assessed.
On Tuesday Keenan was joined at Port Kembla beach by three of those women, Leanne (Bevan) Smith, Tina Morelli and Ruth (Rodwell) Cooke.
They were there to celebrate the fact that Wednesday, July 1 marks 40 years since women were given the opportunity by SLSA to achieve their Bronze Medallions, don the iconic red and yellow patrol uniform and actively patrol Australian beaches as surf lifesavers.
"Given the shift in consciousness and understanding of the movement towards gender equality, I feel proud and honoured that we were part of that paradigm shift happening here in Port Kembla and the world, blazing the trail for other females to follow in our footsteps," Keenan said.
"All the movement around the world in regards to gender equality probably happened at the beginning of the Suffragettes and then obviously it gained momentum.
"Looking back there is all those little drops, including us. We were the little drops that paved the way for the momentum of gender equality and that's what we have here today....male and females working together in harmony."
Smith, Morelli and Cooke agreed with Keenan and praised all involved in Port Kembla Surf Club for welcoming and embracing the girls into the club.
"There was a bit of opposition before the decision was made but once we got our Bronze Medallions, we were welcomed into the club. In fact before too long the club got funding to put female amenities in so they put the change rooms in for us quite quickly," Smith said.
"It may have been a male-dominated sport but we never felt like we didn't belong."
Morelli added it was great to see so many women involved in the life saving movement, be it as patrolling members or as active competitors.
"It's empowering knowing we led the way and now so many young girls get to do this wonderful sport."
Her views were backed by Cooke.
"To be able to do what men were doing was great," she said.
"I think a lot of young women don't understand that they weren't allowed to be on the beach in those days, they just take it for granted that has always been the case.
"It's only now that what we've achieved back then is I think getting the recognition it deserves. I'm just thankful we've been able to pave the way for female lifesavers in a way."
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.