‘It’s more than a sport, it’s a way of life’, says Johan Lourens

By Mark Keohane Time of article published Mar 20, 2020

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Johan Lourens may view his sport of lifesaving as more than just winning medals, but it is his insatiable thirst for winning medals that makes him the most dominant male athlete in the sport’s pool-specialised categories.

Lourens, South Africa’s best male pool lifesaving athlete in 2019, would have spearheaded the challenge of his Tuks Club at the cancelled Wimpy Lifesaving South Africa National Club Championships, which was to have been held in Port Elizabeth from yesterday to Wednesday.

The Championships may be rescheduled for later in the year, and, if not then Lourens will look to 2021 to reaffirm his domestic dominance.

There are still potential overseas competitions later in the year, in which Lourens will be at the forefront of Team South Africa’s challenge. For now, he, like every other sports person on the planet, doesn’t know if or when these competitions will happen.

Lourens is philosophical about the wait to compete again. It is consistent with his view that he fell in love with lifesaving before he took to the sport of lifesaving.

“Lifesaving for me is the ultimate sport. You have to be as disciplined and fit as in any other sport and then there is the human factor in what we do as lifesaving members. Every day we train not only to become faster and more efficient in the water, but we are also learning what to do to help people in need,’ says Lourens.

“It becomes a lifestyle. Our sport requires us to do 30 hours of community service a year. This means working as a lifesaver as school galas or other water sports events. If you have not completed this, you won’t be allowed in any competition.”

Lourens, 24, has previously won the prestigious male lifesaving athlete of the year, but says Lifesaving South Africa’s award for being voted the best sporting federation in South Africa in 2018 was a greater achievement than any individual award.

“The Federation winning the award was exciting and showed that everyone within the federation, its affiliated clubs and the sport must be doing something right. Winning the award was the ideal way to promote lifesaving as a sport and to create countrywide awareness for water safety."

Lourens is a 200 metres obstacle specialist, holds the South African record in the event and in 2019 easily won gold at the National Club Championships. He is also the leading male athlete in the 100m manikin tow with fins and 200 metres superlifesaver and in 2019 won several gold medals at the week-long lifesaving extravaganza in Port Elizabeth. His results made him an obvious choice as the sport’s senior male athlete of the year and also the lifesaver of the year.

The Pretoria-based Lourens, nicknamed the ‘young stallion’, has also been a regular for Team South Africa and was part of the national squad at the most recent World Championships in Adelaide.

Awards and achievements

* 2016 Lifesaving South Africa’s Senior Male Athlete of the year

* 2017 Provincial Victor Ludorum

* 2017 Provincial Athlete of the year

* 2017 Lifesaving South Africa National Championships Victor Ludorum

* 2017 Commonwealth Male Athlete of the competition

* 2018 Lifesaving South Africa’s Senior Male Athlete of the year

* 2019 Lifesaving South Africa’s Senior Male Athlete of the year

* 2019 Lifesaving South Africa’s Lifesaver of the year.

Career highlight

Winning the Competitor of the Competition at the Commonwealth Games in 2017.

Team South Africa

* 2013 Commonwealth Lifesaving Championships in Canberra, Australia (bronze in the 200m Obstacles)

* 2016 World Rescue Lifesaving Championships in Eindhoven and Noordwijk, Netherlands (silver in the Oceanman Relay) and broke South African record in the 200m Obstacles

* 2017 RLSS Commonwealth Festival Lifesaving in Durban, South Africa and awarded athlete of the tournament

* 2018 World Rescue Lifesaving Championships in Adelaide, Australia

* 2019 RLSS Commonwealth Festival Lifesaving in Leeds, England, winning golds in the 50m manikin, 100 manikin and 200 superlifesaver

* Lourens is the South African record holder in the 200m superlifesaver and the commonwealth record holder in the 200m superlifesaver.

IOL Sport

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