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Behind the well-drilled discipline, colour and tradition of the March Past lies a story of friendship and a deep passion for Surf Life Saving, and nowhere is that more apparent than at Collaroy SLSC.

The Collaroy Ladies Team and the Collaroy Bears are two excellent exponents of the traditional event that dates back to the pioneering days of Surf Life Saving with both coming away from the 2017 State Championships at Blacksmiths Beach last weekend with medals.

Collaroy Ladies were judged the best of all the March Past teams winning a gold medal while their club mates, the Bears, finished third. Although the Bears are the defending Aussie Champions they were extremely pleased for their club mates.

“There’s certainly a friendly rivalry between the two teams although I’m not sure how far that truly extends as quite a few of the guys are married to the ladies so as you can imagine things can get competitive at times,” said Bears Standard Bearer David Macintosh A.M.

The Ladies and the Bears train together at the beach with Macintosh believing it’s the chance to give back to their club that appeals to them to keep the tradition of the March Past alive.

“We’re a community club everyone feels a part of it and it is important to us to continue on the tradition and we are all able to enjoy each competition. For us it’s a great way to engage with the sport and give back to the movement,” said Macintosh.

“Jacqui de Kort (Ladies Standard Bearer) and I are really good friends we respect each other and the skills of our team but that doesn’t stop us from going off on our own to before a competition to formulate our own strategies.”

Ladies Standard Bearer Jacqui de Kort felt that the State Championships was a very successful competition for the team.

“It was a really enjoyable weekend and for us as team who have now been together for about 14 seasons it gave us the chance to tune up before Aussies,” de Kort said.

“There’s a real sense of team spirit within our ranks it’s a funny story how we began. Most of us are ex-Nipper mums or were around the club and we were at the club one day and just decided you know what? We really want to stay around surf because it’s something that we enjoy and want to stay engaged so let’s just give it a go.”

It’s a message that de Kort has passed down to her own kids with her son Jake and daughter Alana also returning from Blacksmiths with gold medals draped around their neck. Jake was a member of the Open 5 Person R & R event while Alana earned her medal in the combined U14/15 R & R 2 Person challenge.

And while both Collaroy teams admit there is a certain amount of rivalry they do say so with their tongues firmly planted in cheek. In fact they revel in the chance to compete in the traditional events and relish the chance to catch up with the friends they have made across Australia.

“One of the great things about March Past is you get to know all the other teams and see them frequently. There is a great comradery between the teams and while yes there is a rivalry at the end of the day it’s all forgotten and we recognise the fact that we are all part of this great movement of Surf Life Saving. I think there’s a lesson in that,” said David Macintosh.