The 2022 NSW Age and Youth Surf Life Saving Championships proudly supported by Your local club will kick off on the Northern beaches from Thursday 24 February, with thousands of the state’s best young lifesavers preparing to battle it out in the surf and on the sand over the coming four days.
After five years in the Lake Macquarie region, Queenscliff SLSC, alongside Freshwater SLSC to the north and North Steyne SLSC to the south, will be the scene for the first four days of the 12-day NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, with Under 9 through to U15s competing in everything from swim, board, relays, beach sprints and flags, through to Rescue and Resuscitation and the Junior March Past event on Sunday.
The volunteer workparty from the host clubs have installed more than 1km of crowd control barriers, running along the iconic Manly beach strip, signalling the beginning of the three week event, the pinnacle of the Surf Life Saving NSW sport calendar.
Following a successful Country Championships just under a month ago at Cape Hawke SLSC, Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Surf Sports, Don van Keimpema is anticipating Nippers will be eager and ready to go – even if the weather isn’t playing fair.
“The heavy rain recently across the Sydney basin hasn’t come at the best time, but we’re still ready for all the best young athletes to hit the beach over the next four days,” he said.
“The State Championships is our showpiece event, our opportunity to bring everyone together from up and down the NSW coastline doing the things we love. The Age Championships are a fantastic way to kick it off.
“For the first time we have included our U15 competitors in their very own Youth Championships rather than having them compete in the Open event next weekend.
“We’ve got three fantastic beaches and we’re back in metropolitan Sydney for the first time in almost 20 years, it’s going to be a great showcase of sportsmanship and talent.
“If the weather continues to wreak havoc, we are prepared with contingency plans but we’re committed to staging these Championships as scheduled and with as minimal disruption as possible.”
The first official NSW Championship event for Nippers was held in 1968 at Merewether Beach in the Hunter branch with over 1000 young athletes.
Now, some 54 years later, we will see more than 2500 enthusiastic Nippers and young lifesavers competing at the highest level – a testament to the evolving nature of the Championships and its ability to inspire and establish great athletes.
Bringing a wave of success from the far south, Broulee Surfers SLSC will once again be the southernmost surf club at the State Championships, with a number of young athletes to keep an eye out for.
With beach sprinting running in her veins, U9 competitor Zali Smart comes in unbeaten at local carnivals for the past two years. She is the daughter of former Australian and World Beach Sprint Champion, Ashlee Smart.
Beach Flags expert Archie Rosenbaum will be looking to bounce back after retiring hurt in the U11 category at the Country Championships, while Louis and Hugo Hayward will call on their strong swimming backgrounds when they tackle the U12 and U15 Board races, respectively.
Meanwhile, brother and sister pairing, Luke and Erin Drewsen will bring their talent to the sand. Luke is looking to medal once more after doing so at previous State and Country Championships.
In the north, Black Head SLSC will send a strong contingent to State Champs and they’re psyched after reaping the rewards of a Country Championships held last month in their own backyard.
Tully Kippax will be out to defend her Board title from Swansea last year, competing in the U9 category, while Ella and Ashleigh Pegrum will be ones to watch on the sand and in the surf in the U12 category.
Their team’s recent great results are a product of experienced and talented coach, Marty Cowper, who they intend to make proud with their efforts. Marty’s move from Mona Vale in recent years has been a boon for the young team at Black Head.
All eyes will be on the local competitors, too, with a slew of talented youngsters set to line up and bring home some bling in familiar conditions.
Noah and Sadie Maggs of Newport SLSC – always a strong club in competition – will be ones to watch in the water in the U14s and U12s, while host club, Freshwater SLSC are set to throw their support behind talented U12 beach competitor, Kayla Davies.
Further down the beach at Manly, Sasha Gordon and Jules Huisman will have their eyes on success in the U10 and U9 categories, with their skills in the water and on the sand, respectively, they will be ones to watch.
Beach competitor, Emmeline Richter from Dee Why SLSC is also a strong chance of a medal in U10s.
But it’s the defending champions, North Curl Curl SLSC, who have the most to fight for, looking to take out their third Age Championships title on the back of strong performances from their stable of stars this season.
Among them, Billie Kasprowicz, Jocelyn Melbourn and Pipi Te Paina are expected to dominate in the water, competing across the U9, U11 and U14 categories.
“There is such a wide range of talent and personalities hitting the beach this week,” Don van Keimpema continued.
“In many cases, we are looking at potential future Ironmen and women over these next four days. It’s quite exciting to take that in and really appreciate where they’ve come from and the ability these kids can show from such a young age.
The 2022 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly supported by Your local club, runs from 24 Feb – 13 March at Queenscliff, Nth Steyne and Freshwater beaches. For full event info go to the Event Page.
Wednesday 23 Feb 2022