The wait is almost over for the more than 2,000 youngsters who will be competing for medals and glory at the 2018 NSW Surf Life Saving Championships which get underway in Lake Macquarie from Friday.
The 3-day event is proudly supported by Your local club and will once again be hosted by Swansea Belmont SLSC at the beautiful Blacksmiths Beach.
It is an event eagerly circled each season on the calendar (or phone) of every athlete with many of surf’s most successful athletes including several Olympians starting their competitive journeys at these Championships.
This year Manly Life Saving Club will once again be the club to beat after finishing first overall in the last eight NSW Age Championships.
The first of those wins was in fact at Swansea Belmont when the club hosted the State Titles in 2010 and the club certainly has fond memories of this beach.
Despite the long-term dominance of the Northern Beaches powerhouse, the gap is closing at the top.
Last year Wanda and Elouera SLSC were coming hot on their heels in the race for podium honours, and with Cooks Hill and Swansea Belmont both putting in commendable performances to finish fourth and fifth respectively in 2017, many are predicting a competitive finish.
Hosts Swansea Belmont have entered a strong team of 89 competitors and the athletes will be out to make the most of their hometown knowledge including defending gold medallist Ty Leadbeatter and Kaitlin Rees who won a bronze in her first State Titles in the U9 Swim.
Swansea Belmont won’t have it all their own way in what is shaping up to be a titanic battle for Hunter supremacy as rivals Cooks Hill are full of confidence after performing strongly in recent years.
After enjoying a stellar few seasons at the previous State Champs hosted by Ocean Beach-Umina, no Central Coast club finished in the top five last season - a result which will surely fire up this proud branch.
The battle between heavyweights Avoca Beach, Umina and Terrigal looms as an intriguing subplot but as always in surf anything can happen, and competitors from the smaller clubs will undoubtedly fancy their chances against their bigger rivals.
Illawarra athletes will be in action with Bulli, North Wollongong and Bellambi all fielding strong teams who are coming off great performances in their recent branch titles.
The regional clubs will be well represented after enjoying a highly successful Country Championships at South West Rocks in early February.
A strong representation from the North Coast clubs making the trip include Country Champions Cudgen Headland and Sawtell, who are out to ensure that their Southern rivals won’t have it all their own way.
The finest athletes from South Coast clubs will be giving it their all for a chance to be crowned the best in the state during the Championships with Warilla-Barrack Point and Kiama Downs well represented.
Despite the challenge of living the farthest away from the competition venue, the four athletes selected to represent both Broulee Surfers and Pambula surf clubs will be eager to test their skills against their young counterparts from across the state.
Surf Life Saving NSW Sports Manager Rob Pidgeon feels the experience that Swansea Belmont has as hosts will be crucial in the successful staging of the event.
“We are delighted to once again be back at Blacksmiths Beach for what promises to be a highly entertaining three-days of racing in a great setting with amiable hosts in the club and Lake Macquarie City Council.
“The State Championships are always eagerly anticipated by our young members who will be looking forward to testing themselves against the best competitors from around the state in a diverse range of events, and we certainly wish them all the very best of luck,” Mr Pidgeon said.
The 2018 NSW Surf Life Saving Age Championships, proudly supported by Your local club will takes place over three exciting days at Swansea Belmont from this Friday 2 March.
Thursday 1 March 2018