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The 2024 NSW Age Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly presented by Your local club will kick off on the Northern beaches from Thursday 7 March, 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.

Queenscliff SLSC, alongside Freshwater SLSC to the north and North Steyne SLSC to the south, will be the scene for four days of excitement and action, with U9 through to U15 competitors contesting a slew of events including swims, boards, relays, beach sprints and flags, through to Rescue and Resuscitation and the Junior March Past event on Sunday.

The NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly presented by Your local club is the largest event of its kind in NSW, with more than 20,000 competitors, officials and spectators to filter through the competition area over the course of the coming two weeks – Masters, Open and Surf Boat Championships will be contested next week, and the Lifesaving Championships ran at Freshwater over the weekend.

North Bondi SLSC is the defending club champion, with Coogee SLSC, Wanda SLSC, South Maroubra SLSC and traditional Age powerhouse, North Curl Curl SLSC among the clubs chasing top spot.

Following a successful Country Championships just under a month ago at Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC, Surf Life Saving NSW Director and Chair of Surf Sports, Don van Keimpema is anticipating Nippers will be eager and ready to go.

“We’re really looking forward to this – the stage is set, the weather looks like it will be stunning, and we’re 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 is a fantastic platform to further our young members’ lifesaving journey.

“We’ve got three fantastic beaches and we’re back in metropolitan Sydney for a third year, it’s going to be a great showcase of sportsmanship and talent.”

The first official NSW Championship event for Nippers was held in 1968 at Merewether Beach in the Hunter Branch with over 1,000 young athletes.

Now, some 54 years later, we will see more than 2,500 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.

For host club, Queenscliff, it’s the benefit of waking up each morning in your own bed that will spur them towards success.

“With State Champs on our beach again the excitement is palpable,” Queenscliff Team Manager, Shona Rose said.

“We’re going to have about 130 competitors all up, including our Masters and Opens, and the sentiment is not lost on them that they’re competing on their home beach.”

Down south, Gerringong SLSC will enter an Age Championships for the first time in six years without a Siasat on the beach – older brother, Miller has moved into Open competition this year, and younger sister, Ginger won’t be competing.

The focus instead turns to the water where the majority of the club’s 11 travelling kids will be vying for medals.

“The kids have already had an amazing season, but they’ve really come along over the last few months on the back of the last hard block of training,” Team Manager, Richard Payne said.

“Head Coach, Larn Darragh has had them pushing themselves through a testing little period, and we’re very lucky that the kids in our training group are super tight and really supportive of each other’s success.”

Lachie Darragh and Emmi Alchin in the U9s are ones to watch, while the Gerringong U12s all compete strongly.

On the Central Coast, Umina SLSC will be looking to capitalise on its top 10 finish in the overall point score last year – the highest of any Central Coast club – and surge further up the standings in 2024.

“The kids were so excited to receive their state uniforms ahead of this week, we have 46 travelling down and they’ve been training hard all season with multiple sessions in the water on top of their pool swimming,” Team Manager, Allison Hoyland said.

“That’s where we will be the strongest and we hope to succeed.”

Marli Hoyland, Savannah Glynn, Chloe Hall and Sadie Martin were all in the Central Coast Interbranch team that surprised the competition to finish second at Fingal Bay in December last year and will be ones to watch.

Lylah Glynn and Nicholas Hopley in the U10s are also ones to watch for the future.

At Maroubra SLSC, it’s a transitional rebuild year for the club’s Nipper cohort, with 42 athletes strongest in the U9 and U11 categories set to contest the Championships.

In search of gold medals and in perpetuating past strengths, the club is excited to enter a team in an event they haven’t been a part of for three years.

“This year we’re bringing back the successful March Past team which last entered the event in 2020 where they won gold, as they did the preceding year,” Team Manager, John Georgas said.

“After a long break the team has been training hard, and although we expect to have most success in the beach events, our older competitors will do us proud in the water.”

Woolgoolga SLSC’s athletes, meanwhile, have a longer trip down to the Championships, with many making the journey to State for the first time.

“It’s a small team of 10 who have all performed well at the recent Country and Interbranch Championships, so we’ll be hoping for some great results at State too,” Team Manager, Ryan Johnson said.

“They’ve been training as a team on top of their individual stuff and all the team is really excited to test themselves against the best surf sport athletes in the state.”

The 2024 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly supported by Your local club, began this past weekend with Lifesaving Championships 1-3 March and runs through to 17 March at Queenscliff, Nth Steyne and Freshwater beaches. For full event info go to the Event Page.

Wednesday 6 March 2024