Around 80 athletes from more than a dozen surf clubs have taken part in the 7th annual NSW Surf Life Saving Inclusive Championships at Queenscliff beach, with growing numbers and beaming smiles a sure sign the event was once again a big hit.

Less than a decade after the first ever Inclusive Championships was held at Swansea Belmont, the beachfront at North Steyne SLSC was packed with eager competitors, happy handlers and parents excited to see the event unfold on Sunday morning, 10 March.

“It all sort of came about seven years ago because we noted that some of our nippers and youth members didn’t have an avenue to progress in Surf Life Saving, they’d turn up to the club and there was nothing really for them,” said referee Michael Wasley.

“It’s an event we’re all very passionate about, we love it, and you can see just from the numbers on the beach there is a lot of support.”

The event program plays out much the same as the Age, Open and Masters Championships, with competitors contesting events on the beach track and in the surf. Once the race is run, athletes were awarded their medals to raucous applause on the podium.

“We have a number of people who are fiercely competitive, but I’d say the majority are here for pure enjoyment,” Michael said with a smile.

“I think this year, with it being the first year there will be adaptive events at Aussies as well, it will be interesting to see the uptake and hopefully we can all build on that.”

Indeed, Amy Grace Smith from Ocean Beach SLSC loved every second of the competition, and even picked up a medal to take home with her.

“I do all the events, I’ve been doing it for a while and I feel supported by this community and the people around me,” she said.

“The next step for us is to get it out to more of the clubs,” Michael added.

“A lot of clubs still don’t know this exists, so the hope is the kids and adults here today go back to their clubs, with their medals, they talk about it and other people get involved from there.”

Wednesday 13 March 2024

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