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Making the most of their local advantage, Hunter branch clubs and competitors put on a show of strength at the NSW Age Surf Life Saving Championships at Blacksmiths Beach.

The host club Swansea Belmont SLSC ended the three days in 9th spot on the pointscore, while Cooks Hill SLSC was over the moon with its third position and place on the podium behind the much larger city clubs, Elouera and Newport.

Just two points separated Cooks Hill from the silver medallists, and the State Champions were only seven points ahead overall. Some sensational performances on the beach and in the water kept the points coming in throughout the weekend for Cooks Hill and Team Manager Michael Clancy says the focus on competition has paid dividends for the club in recent years.

“We made a decision to really concentrate on surf sport competition and we realised we had a number of very talented athletes,” said Michael Clancy. “We were successful at Aussies last year even with a fairly small contingent, so we are hoping to build on this and have a new wave of competitors come through to the senior ranks.”

There was no shortage of excitement and encouragement coming from the Swansea Belmont team either who came up with a very unique way of cheering on competitors from the sidelines. The distinctive clang of a large cowbell rang out across the beach throughout the weekend, a suggestion by head coach Tim Allen who was inspired by the recent Winter Olympics. The kids could hear it easily from the water and would lift their race rating.

The highlight for the club was the All Age Board Relay team winning the final race of the carnival. “We were really happy and have been trying to win this race for a while. Today things went our way and everyone did the right thing to get the result,” said Swansea Belmont coach Nat McGregor.

On the beach track, Samuel Govender claimed both the Beach Sprint and Flags events in the Under 10s. The young runner has been a Nipper at Swansea Belmont for several years but has not really competed, concentrating on his track athletics and cross country activities instead. Sam was recently the youngest finalist in the Male Junior Sportsperson of the Year for Lake Macquarie City Council and his dad Sven says the time may soon come when Sam will need to decide whether to focus on sprint racing, or endurance events.

“He is loving the beach running too though, he has been getting all the kids together twice a week from a number of local clubs to train and he is coaching them in how to run and how to start. He’s taken charge and it’s great to see,” said Sven Govender.

“I really think Surf Life Saving is much more character building for kids as an activity than a lot of other sports.”


Tuesday 6 March 2018