Athletes Eager For Country Champs

The wait is almost over for the 1400 surf lifesavers who will be contesting the 2017 Stramit NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships which get underway at South West Rocks from this Saturday.

Almost 4000 people including athletes, supporters, and officials will be descending on the idyllic Mid North Coast town for the two-day competition which is always a highlight for lifesavers based outside the metropolitan areas.

Athletes across the state are busy putting the final touches on their preparation with established names looking to build on past performances, and emerging ones out for their own slice of success.

Athletes to watch include 2017 NSW Interstate and NSW Country Team athlete Luke Chaffer (Cudgen Headland) and the rest of the NSW Country team which include Matthew Sperring and Maddison Prior from Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC, Jy Timperley and Caitlin Callahan (Byron Bay) and Nadi Canning and Anthea Warne also from Cudgen Headland SLSC.

The Far North Coast Branch will be represented by over 440 competitors with six-time Champions Byron Bay and fierce rivals Cudgen Headland both bringing strong squads.

North Coast will be sending almost 300 athletes to the Championships with 2016 podium finishers Coffs Harbour and top five placed Sawtell all heavily represented. It will be a family affair for the Sawtell McConnachie family with five siblings all contesting the championships, while Urunga’s newest recruit Tahlia Kollen will be out to build on her stunning 2016 Country Championship campaign where she won 25 medals.

Mid North Coast Branch will be fielding its largest team for some years with over 420 competitors participating in the Championships. Host club South West Rocks have entered a 50+ strong team, while local rivals Port Macquarie SLSC, who finished fourth last year will bring over 130 competitors.

About 75 competitors from the Lower North Coast will make the journey with Forster SLSC and Cape Hawke SLSC leading the way in terms of numbers.

Lifesavers from the southern branches won’t let the tyranny of distance deter them from attending this year’s event. South Coast will be sending a bigger team than last year, with over 170 competitors with Mollymook sending 48 and Warilla-Barrack Point fielding 43 competitors.

A small but committed team of about 40 athletes from the Far South Coast will make the long trip north with Narooma SLSC and Broulee Surfers the two most represented.

NSW Surf Sports Manager Rob Pidgeon is anticipating a tightly fought competition.

“All the regions are sending strong teams with most clubs represented which is very pleasing to see. The Country Championships are a wonderful opportunity for our lifesavers to not only compete, but also to forge friendships with those from outside their area which only strengthens the movement,” Rob Pidgeon said.

“Reports from local branch and club carnivals have been impressive, and we’re looking forward to seeing all our lifesavers putting their form into practice.”

The 2017 Stramit NSW Country Surf Life Saving Championships will be held at South West Rocks this weekend; 4-5 February.

Visit www.surflifesaving.com.au/countrychamps17 for the latest event information, news and results. You can also follow the event updates via our Country Championships Facebook Event.

Wed 1 Feb 2017