More than 2,500 of Surf Life Saving’s youngest members have descended on Swansea Belmont SLSC for three big days of competition at the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships.
Nippers under the age of 14 will compete for their club in both team and individual events on the sand and in the surf, today and over the weekend vying for one of 124 State Titles.
Event referee and SLSNSW Official of the Year Jenny Kenny from Cudgen Headland SLSC has been volunteering her time to oversee surf sports for 32 years.
She says she is looking forward to watching the kids compete fairly and to the best of their ability.
“The conditions are looking good for the kids,” Ms Kenny says.
“I love seeing them having a great time on the beach representing their clubs and racing with their friends. Age Championships always has a great energy about it.”
Eighty-seven clubs will be represented with some families travelling almost 700km to compete.
Two young athletes from Narooma SLSC, Mystery Bennett and Travis Stubbs, will take part in multiple events in the Under 12s.
Recently crowned 2019 Country Champions Cudgen Headland SLSC will be the most northern club represented with 36 Nippers travelling down to Lake Macquarie.
Host Club Swansea Belmont SLSC will flood their home beach with their club colours of green and gold in an effort to improve their overall point score in 2019. The club will field a 102 strong team.
Ace Harvey from Avoca Beach SLSC is the youngest getting ready to compete at just eight years old. He will contest seven events including the Surf Race, Board, Beach Sprints, Flags and relays.
“It will be fun! I love the Board event the most. I love catching waves,” Ace says.
Defending Age Champions Elouera SLSC will have 145 members take to the beach.
Among them is Charlotte Loader who will compete for the last time as the oldest competitor in the event. Charlotte recently completed her Surf Rescue Certificate and has begun patrolling as a junior lifesaver.
“I’ve been involved as a Nipper since Under 6s. I started coming to State Champs in the Under 10s and have been every year since,” Charlotte says.
“I like the Beach Sprints and the relay the most. It’s so much fun being with my team, they’re like a family. There’s always someone watching and cheering. I’ve made some of my closest friends through Surf Life Saving and competing at events like this.”
This weekend will also feature the first Inclusive events being trialled as part of the State Championships. Sixteen members living with disability will contest the Surf Race, Board Race, Beach Flags and Beach Sprint.
“The inclusion of these competitors this year is fantastic. Many of the kids have been coming to carnivals and watching their siblings for years,” says Inclusive event coordinator Michael Wasley.
“They really look forward to showing everyone what they can do and what they’ve learnt and are stoked to be part of inter-club events.”