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While they were a long way from home, competitors from the south of the state made their mark at the 2019 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships last week at Swansea Belmont near Lake Macquarie.

It began on the beach over the two days of Masters competition with some great results, including Davina Strauss (Coledale) displaying her experience and skill with individual wins in the 35-39 Beach Sprint and Beach Flags and a bronze with her team in the 170+ Beach Relay.

“For the first time we had a women's beach relay team and it was great. We all patrol together and we thought we'd give it a go for fun. I think this venue is fantastic because it's central for everyone in the state,” said Strauss. 

“I've been doing flags since I was a nipper, it's great to get back to reliving memories and doing things you love. I'm coaching Nippers and I enjoy it all as a competitor and coach. I love to see the smiles on everyone's faces at these big events. It's all about getting back to the basics really; staying healthy and active and being with good friends.”

Nowra-Culburra’s lone competitor Chad Poland made the trip worthwhile by competing in pretty much everything in his 35-39 Year division, with a bronze in the Surf Race, the Rescue Tube Race, the 2km Beach Run and fourth in the Ironman.

The three-time Coolangatta Gold athlete has been coming to State Champs since he was a Nipper. 

“I missed a few being away for work, but I love it. I love being part of the surf club, it's just such a great healthy lifestyle. Instead of going to the gym, I head down to the beach and paddle my ski, board and bodysurf some waves. Being in the Navy, training for these kinds of events is easy and I love doing it,” said Poland. 

“Growing up at Culburra we won the Country Championships back in the '90s. Since then our competitors have dropped off but I love continuing to compete. I'd just much rather be out on the beach and in the surf than anything else.”

With Masters competition wrapped, the Opens hit centre stage and there were plenty of southern surf clubs represented on the track and in the water.

Bulli’s Jasmine Locke was all smiles after her win the U17 Female Ski race, displaying mental toughness in the flat conditions.

“It was a really long race and I was lucky I didn't get caught around the cans and got a small wave in. I put my head down and start paddling hard. I try to race my own race and not look behind,” said Locke.

“I love coming to State Champs because I love being at the beach and competing for my club. I started as a Nipper in Under 6s and have been coming back every season since. It feels really good representing Bulli and getting great results. We got first and second in the Surf Race today as well. We're just getting stronger and stronger as a competitive club.”

Mollymook’s young beach competitors carried the flag for the club at the Opens competition, with double gold going to Sam Zustovich in the U17 Beach Sprint and Flags and Brock Scrivener taking out the U19 Beach Flag event.

Bulli’s boaties were also on fire, with the Open Men Surf Boat winners making history with six straight wins at the NSW titles.

“We've been here a couple of times before with this being our seventh State Title win in eight years, but it just keeps getting better,” grinned boat sweep Shane Geloven.

“The conditions are pretty flat, it was a really long race. You've got to row the whole way when it's like this. In the end, we jagged a nice runner that we worked hard for so we're pretty happy.”

Geloven disputes that the crew is unbeatable, despite their domination of the Open division.

“Unbeatable? You never say that. It was a very hot field and we were worried about everyone out there,” he said. 

Making the long trip north also proved successful for Far South Coast competitors, the Batemans Bay boaties.

The Batemans Bay Phoenix surf boat crew swept by Neil Innes continue to surprise, taking gold in the Female Masters 180+ category and backing up in the Opens to claim a hard won silver in the Reserve Women’s division.

With many competitors from southern NSW making the trek to Aussies in a few weeks’ time, it’s back to hard training for now in the run down to the season’s finale on the Gold Coast.