Two Shelly Beach surf lifesavers were a part of the NSW team that returned to Australia with a trove of medals after cleaning up at the New Zealand National Pool Rescue Championships.
Ethan Garland and James Koch were among the 20 strong team.
Shelly’s Tom Simpson also went along as Assistant Coach.
The team, which was selected based on their excellent results at the NSW and Australian Pool Rescue Championships, travelled to New Zealand to put their skills and speed to the test against the Kiwis from October 11 to 13.
Over two-days, the NSW athletes competed in all divisions including the coveted Super Lifesaver event, and for the first time, the team entered Open competitors who came up against the likes of New Zealand pool superstars, Steven Kent and Chris Dawson.
Team Manager, Max Gonzales, said that this year, the team was opened up to Under 16s, Under 19s and Open divisions to assist with the lead up to the Commonwealth and Royal National Pool Championships.
“This year has been the most successful year for us yet as a result of creating this additional major meet for our athletes.
“For those who also compete in beach and surf events, it puts them in the ring to be selected to represent Australia at the World Championships.
“It’s also a great opportunity for us to see how the New Zealanders are working with their clubs and athletes to promote Pool Rescue and develop the pathways to strengthen the sport as a whole in NSW,” Gonzales said.
“The expectations of the team were quite high based on their outstanding times at the state and Australian Championships.
“Many of them were aiming to outperform their personal bests despite coming off the back of a big training block.
“To return home with so many medals is amazing,” he said.
A highlight from the Championships included Koch’s gold medal in the Open Male 200m Super Lifesaver.
“The Super Lifesaver is one of the most gruelling events, testing all capabilities of athletes under the pressure of the clock,” Simpson said.
Koch won gold with a time of 2:13.68.
A talented swimmer in the pool and the surf, Koch is a two-time recipient of the Saxon Bird Memorial Trophy at the NSW Championships.
“It’s great to see him transition into Pool Rescue racing and expand his success as a multi-faceted athlete,” said Simpson.
And the Super Lifesaver was just one of many medals for Koch who also picked up a silver in the Open Male 200m Orbs, a gold in the Open Male 100 Rescue Medley and a silver in the Open Male 50m with Fins, as well as a slew of medals from the team events, including a NSW first when the team of Koch, Joey Warne, Jake Cerniauskas and Blake Hessel won gold in the Men’s Open 200m Obstacle Relay.
Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Surf Sports, Don van Keimpema, said it was great to see the NSW team continue their success internationally after a big year on home turf.
“Pool Rescue is one of our fastest developing surf sports and it is really complementary to our athletes and lifesavers,” said van Keimpema.
“Taking opportunities like this to travel internationally and continue to refine their skills for individual and team events is so important.
“For the team to return home with the success that they have is a bonus and we’re very proud of them all,” he said.
Media release, Oct 13
SLS NSW Media