SURF LIFESAVING: Mooloolaba ironman Kendrick Louis is primed for the summer after recovering from a serious knee injury.
The 22-year-old was second in the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series standings midway through last season, in January, when he suffered posterior cruciate ligament damage at Perth.
The shattered Sydney product was forced to abandon the race, ruled out for the rest of the season and left to rue what might have been.
"I was having so much fun throughout last series and I think that's why those good results were coming and then for all that to go within a split second, it was hard to come to terms with," he said. "I thought all of that training I'd done, and all of those sacrifices I'd made had gone down the drain, so it was hard to deal with mentally.
"But I've moved on from that. In fact, I'm sort of glad the injury happened in a way because it taught me to not take things for granted in the sport.
"You get to a point where you do take it for granted and I didn't realise that until I was sitting on the sidelines, sitting at the beach watching the other rounds. I just wanted to be out there. That was the worst part."
After an off-season spent returning to full fitness, Louis is ready to go again.
And after surprising plenty of pundits with his performances last season - finishing in the top five in his only three races - Louis knows what he is capable of producing.
"I think last year I went into the series not knowing what was going to happen. I just went into it blind because I hadn't been in the series for the past couple of years," he said.
"I grew up idolising guys like Zane (Holmes) and Ky (Hurst) and Shannon Eckstein and you come to race them and you look at them and think, 'you were my heroes a couple of years ago and now I just want to beat you', and when you do beat those guys in a race that gives you enormous amounts of confidence.
"So I took a lot out of that last season before I got injured. I got a lot of experience, I learned a lot from it.
"I ALSO made a lot of mistakes last year and I've learned from those mistakes and will move forward."
After last summer's disaster, Louis said he would not be setting a definitive goal for the new series.
"Last year my goal was to run in the top 10 in the series, and at the time I was doing that and having a great time, but I think this season I'll take each round as it comes," he said.
"It's been a dream of mine to win the series, but it's hard to say I'm going to win it. I don't know how everyone else has prepared for the series and I don't know what's going to happen on the day."
Louis considered marking his comeback to competition at a lucrative eliminator event at Kurrawa yesterday.
It was won by fellow Mooloolaba competitor Matt Poole, who marked his return from an off-season knee injury in fine fashion.
But Louis decided not to risk the chance of getting re-injured before next month's World Lifesaving Championship at Adelaide and the Ironman Series, which starts at Perth in December.
"I probably could have raced this weekend, but I just wanted to be safe coming into the world titles and the series," Louis said.