It may not be the same strength in numbers that comprehensively wrapped up a second straight Country Championships on home sand just over a month ago, but Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC is hoping its burgeoning success is not confined to regional carnivals as the club prepares an assault on the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships.

If anything, the South Coast club’s victory over the Australia Day long weekend could well act as a springboard for the athletes who have grown immeasurably not just over the past two years, but over more than a decade. 

Indeed, the tides had been turning at Warilla long before they dethroned Cudgen Headland SLSC as kings of the country last year, and now the coaching team is hopeful they can continue to build on their success – this time on a bigger stage. 

“It’s not something that happened overnight, it’s been probably 10-12 years in the making,” Assistant Coach, Damien Sheedy said. 

“We’ve, Kirk and I, have been there every step of the way and built everything with the people who are here today from the ground up.” 

“The senior athletes who are here now, we had them as juniors all those years ago. It’s been a big reason we’ve had this success now, keeping the same people around as they move through the ranks,” Head Coach, Kirk Allen added. 

“Even 5-6 years ago, we had five in our senior ranks. Now you can count maybe 45 or more, we’ve got a great group and it’s beginning to show.” 

And to think, if not for a mistaken arrival nearly three decades ago, none of this may have even been possible. 

“It was maybe 25 years ago now, I came down to Nippers one day, I went to the wrong beach actually. I was meant to go somewhere else, but I showed up at Warilla and have barely missed a weekend since,” Kirk said. 

“I fell in love with the place. I’m really grateful as well for Damien’s support – I drive the competitors for their heart and their fitness, and then Damien brings the water skills and that surf nous.” 

The travelling contingent from Warilla up to Queenscliff will have more than 70 competitors across Age, Open and Masters, and there’s great confidence they can mix it with the state’s best. 

“We have such a great community, everyone knows everyone around the club and that’s what we’ve wanted to create – we’re family,” Damien said. 

“We’re driven by that, the athletes are driven by that. There’s a lot of talent here,” Kirk added. 

Tuesday 5 March 2024