IT WAS soon after Pete O'Neill started walking at the age of two that he learnt to water ski.
He picked up barefoot water skiing at eight and would become a nine-time Australian champion, a title he holds today.
- Mulwala Water Ski Show, 5pm and 8pm, Friday and Saturday until January 26. Details: mulwalawaterski.com.au
At 13, he made the national junior team and attended his first international competition. A few years ago, Pete was named International Athlete of the Year for water skiing.
But despite the accolades, one of his major achievements is the Mulwala Water Ski Show.
The annual show, which he has run since 2004 for the Mulwala Ski Club, sees junior and adult skiers perform tricks and stunts all on the smallest ski show water in the world - 50m across and 100m in length.
About 3000 spectators each night see the spectacular throughout summer, paying a gold coin donation.
The money funds local community and charity groups and also helps pay for the local junior water skiing team to attend the national titles.
Pete says it's these juniors, many of whom he coaches, of whom he is most proud.
"Water skiing by itself is a great way to build character. It teaches a lot of discipline and because it's scary you have to overcome your fears," says the 28-year-old, who runs the Mulwala Water Ski Shop as well as a ski school.
"There are a lot of kids in town who don't have a lot of money and it annoys me they can't afford it - it can be quite an expensive sport - so quite a lot of these kids pay a $5 club membership and the whole ski show teaching comes free."
This year's show theme is Toy Story and, like past years, Pete and his mate, Brutis Ryan, have choreographed the show.
"It's a lot of work but at the same time it's immense fun."
Pete has suffered for his sport, enduring a ripped hamstring, broken ribs, torn knee cartilage and the odd bruised ego.
"I'd do it all again though. Not too many people have travelled the world doing what they love."