Connor Botha and his sister Tatum, two of SA’s finest teenage lifesaving specialists.
Connor Botha and his sister Tatum, two of SA’s finest teenage lifesaving specialists.
Connor Botha and his sister Tatum, two of SA’s finest teenage lifesaving specialists.
Connor Botha and his sister Tatum, two of SA’s finest teenage lifesaving specialists.
The General Tire Lifesaving South Africa National Championships take place in Port Elizabeth in the last week of March. Mark Keohane, in a build-up series of articles, focuses on the athletes expected to dominate.

He’s just 16 years old but KwaZulu-Natal’s Connor Botha is already a star of the South African lifesaving scene.

Botha’s genetics scream lifesaving. His father Dylan is an iconic figure in the sport. His sister Tatum is among the most talented teenagers on the circuit.

Socially, the family has always been strong in the community service of lifesaving, but it’s in the competitive arena where Connor Botha has flourished.

Botha was one of the stand out performers in Team South Africa’s challenge at the World Championship in Australia late last year.

Team South Africa’s Youth squad produced the country’s best ever collective performance at the Lifesaving World Championships in Adelaide.

South Africa finished fourth from 16 countries and every one of the South African Youth squad of 12 won a medal. Botha, combining with Milan Erasmus, smashed the world record in the pool line throw event.

What sets Botha apart from most is his competitiveness in the pool and surf.

He started lifesaving as an eight-year-old and has flourished as a teenager. He has twice been the South African athlete of the year and he also finished second in the surf swim at the international Sea Rescue Challenge in New Zealand.

Botha also has the advantage of being trained by South Africa’s most decorated swimming coach, Graham Hill. Russel Sadler, meanwhile, has also been very influential in Connor's training.

Botha, in 2018, featured prominently in several events at the national championships in Port Elizabeth.

He then successfully transferred that form to the international arena.

His father is his inspiration: "My dad has taught me everything I know not only in lifesaving but in life.

"He has also taught me to never give up and always have a smile on my face no matter the results and I can honestly say he is the reason I am where I am today," says Botha. "My other inspiration is Alistair Day. I’d say he is the best iron man to ever win the Coolangata gold and he is the fittest athlete in the sport and shows the passion he has for lifesaving every time he is on the start line."

The National Championships take place between March 24 and 30.

In 2018, 1669 competitors from 41 national clubs competed in 528 events over an eight-day period.

Another feature this year will be the return of surf boating, with eight crew competing.

@mark_keohane


Sunday Tribune

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