Certain names stand out among the national champions: A. T. Dalton (North Beach), J. T. Clark (Maranui), N. and C. Chambers (New Brighton), M. Haxton (Maranui), P. Garrett (Taylors Mistake), John Jarvis (St. Clair), R. Harker (Red Beach), and J. Cotterill (Castlecliff). Alan Dalton was the first man to win a New Zealand individual title two years running—in 1936 and 1937. He also won the wartime title in 1945. Joseph Clark has the most remarkable record of all. He won the “double” – the surf-race championship and the individual beltman's title – two years in succession, in 1939 and 1940. Then, after war service overseas and a long rehabilitation period, he came back again to win the beltman's title in 1949 and 1950. The Chambers brothers of New Brighton monopolised the senior surf race from 1946 to 1949 and Murray Haxton performed the unprecedented feat of taking this individual title three years in succession – from 1952 to 1954.
Among other notable achievements was that of New Zealand's “Flying Squadron”, which was never headed in surf events in Australia during the Olympic tour of 1956. The performance of these swimmers in heavy surf conditions was a great surprise to the Australian' champions and was one of the factors which helped New Zealand to run Australia to a close decision in the first international surf contest ever held.
In quite a different category of enterprise is one surf lifesaver who will never be forgotten - Barrie Devenport, of Worser Bay club. In November 1962 he became the first person to swim the notorious Cook Strait, one of the most unpredictable and roughest stretches of water in the world. Devenport swam from the North Island to the South Island and, after nearly 12 hours, reached a rock at the entrance to Tory Channel.