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Custom(er) Stories: Trent Maxwell

31 January, 2020

Lifeguard, firefighter, television star, author and social entrepreneur, Trent Maxwell keeps pretty busy. We caught up with him to chat about keeping the fans away from the Bondi lifeguard tower and teaching kids about water safety. 


Tell us what it's like being a lifeguard, away from the cameras.  

The lifeguard team work 365 days a year at Bondi, and I still work as a casual lifeguard on my days off as a firefighter. Some days are quiet, but the busy days can see up to 40,000 people on the beach. Either way we are still there, working for the community, setting up the flags, monitoring any dangerous currents or rips and making sure everyone stays safe at the beach.

How does the television show, Bondi Rescue feed into that? Can it be difficult trying to separate your work priorities when there’s cameras and fans of the show around? 

The show is filmed on GoPros, so you honestly forget that they are there. Plus, the show is only filmed 3 months of the year. Over the years we have had a few fans that come up to the tower asking for photos, but obviously we’re on duty and our priority is watching the water. There are now signs around the tower to hopefully explain to fans that we are working. If we have any downtime we do try to talk and see as many people as we can, to make them feel welcome, but at the end of the day we are professional lifeguards and we need to keep our eyes on the water. The TV show comes second to that.

Any interesting tales from work? 

There’s always something going on at Bondi. I’ve done a few successful resuscitations over the years, which is always rewarding. A couple of years ago I rescued a guy from the ocean, brought him on to the beach, and then resuscitated him for about 12 minutes. It was great to get him back to life and see him carry on to live another day.

You’ve written children’s books. Tell us about the story and concept behind them? 

Maxi the Lifeguard is a set of 3 fictional children’s books which are loosely based on my upbringing and me aspiring to become a lifeguard. It was important for me to pass on my knowledge to kids so they could learn skills that ultimately save lives. The books teach kids about being persistent, overcoming challenges, dealing with bullies, as well as important water safety tips. Each book has a theme - Rips, Heatstroke and DRS ABCD. I wasn’t the best reader as a kid, so I wanted the books to appeal to the reluctant reader, so they could read and learn at the same time. I am proud to say Book 2, ‘The Stormy Protest’, has just been awarded the 2019 Environment Award for Children’s Literature.


You keep very busy - what other ambassador roles and jobs do you have on the go? How do you juggle it all?

As well as being a firefighter and lifeguard, I am also Co-Founder and a Director of Live Learn Survive, a social enterprise which runs Fire & Water Safety Education for children. In 2019 I travelled and spoke to over 9000 children, in 4 countries, across 25 cities, working with over 45 schools and children’s groups. We meet lots of children, teach them how to keep themselves safe and hopefully inspire them to believe in their dreams. We have now set a bigger goal for 2020 to meet 20,000 children face to face in the next 12 months. I am lucky with my fire station roster that my days off give me the chance to travel around and carry out this work.

Do you have any passions or hobbies outside of work?

I like to exercise and I like to go to the beach and go surfing. Travel, for leisure too.


Obviously, you spend most of your time in a physical workplace, away from tailored clothing. When you get a chance to dress up, do you enjoy it? How would you describe your personal sense of style?

People are used to seeing me in uniform, either as a firie or lifeguard when I’m in boardie’s and thongs, so I love getting dressed up. Whether I’m going to the races or a function with Live Learn Survive it’s always good to dress up and wear a different suit. It makes you feel good.  My personal sense of style would probably be a classic, sharp look. I don’t go too out there with trends but I love the look of a well fitted, tailored suit. Bit like Mr Bond!

Given you spend a lot of time in the water and on a board, I imagine it would be quite difficult to find a suit that fits your shoulders properly - has that traditionally been a problem?

It has been. Since meeting the team at InStitchu you know you are meeting people that know what they are doing, they look at your body shape and your measurements, then they make it work. I have broader shoulders and bigger hips so they gave me advice on cut and styling and the result is you get a suit that makes you feel good. At the end of the day no one wants to wear a suit that doesn’t fit, so get some good advice and take the time to get measured properly.

You’re coming up to your wedding - congratulations! How is all the preparation coming? Tell us about your suit and your groomsmen suits and your inspiration for this.

My wedding is not far away now, it’s very exciting. It’s a summer beach wedding which I am excited about as I grew up on the beach. The preparations are going well and my partner, Tahlia, and I can’t wait for the day. Tying in with the theme of the beach the look I have chosen is a natural cream colour, perfect for summer. I will be wearing a full suit, but my groomsmen will be wearing waistcoats. The fabric is beautiful and lightweight so it will be perfect for a summer wedding.

Trent and Tahlia were wed on the 1st of February in Sydney—congratulations to them both once again!

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Photography by Scott Surplice Photography.

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