Kirsty Higgison had just a taste of the big time last summer and it's left her craving so much more.
The 21-year-old Mooloolaba ironwoman received a call-up to the sixth and final round of the 2013-14 Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series at Coolum Beach in February after Bonnie Hancock was forced to withdraw with glandular fever.
In a heart-thumping eliminator format, she finished 11th of 16.
"To get a taste of that was unreal," she said.
"It was pretty good because it made me focus really hard in the off-season to try and crack into it."
Higgison she is closer than anyone to securing a spot in the 2015-16 Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series after winning the opening round of the Surf Ironman Qualifying Series at Alexandra Headland yesterday.
Winning is one thing; but dominating the game is something else. And that’s what Higgison did.
She upset a host of Ironwoman Series competitors to finish 20 seconds ahead of Harriet Brown and Emma Dick.
The result shocked her too considering a pre-season in which she suffered from illness, including a chest infection.
"It's been tough in a way, the last few years, so to finally get a win is quite nice," she said.
"To win here is pretty cool and a bit of a surprise. I'm hoping to get some consistent results and I will try and enjoy it."
She is the daughter of the Los Angeles Olympics swimming silver medallist Karen Phillips and a former Australian kayaking representative, Higgison has followed in the footsteps of renowned ironman Ali Day.
“The SIQS includes seven rounds. Athletes will count their best four results and the top three in the standings will secure spots in the 2015-16 Ironwoman Series.