PORT ELIZABETH - Everything that is strong about South African lifesaving was on display in the pool and in the surf at the General Tire National Championships in Port Elizabeth, with the established stars of the sport standing tall and the next generation of superstars emerging in the form of Durban Surf’s dynamite female Nipper double act of Tatum Botha and Tannah Smith.
East London’s Jordan Fenn also confirmed his immense potential in winning the Boys U13 Nipper Iron to add to his earlier success in the Run/Swim/Run.
Several of South Africa’s premier senior 2017 National Squad have opted to compete in the Pool National Championships at Newton Park and also the Surf National Championships at King’s Beach.
And their success in the Pool emphasized their class, with South Africa’s renowned Beach Sprint Queen Mandi Maritz combining with Alicia Gilmore to take gold in the Female Open 50 metre linethrow.
Carmel Billson, the sport’s most celebrated South African female athlete in 2017, transferred her winning ways from the Surf to the Pool to win the 200 metre Female Obstacle Open.
Tuks’s Pool specialist and a regular for Team South Africa Johan Lourens also won gold.
Billson, the 2017 General Tire Lifesaving South Africa Female Athlete of the Year, and Maritz will no doubt feature prominently in the latter part of the week then they take to the Surf and Sand respectively. But for now the headline act belonged to youngsters (Tatum) Botha, (Tannah) Smith and Fenn.
The Nipper Iron Event is the marquee event and Botha triumphed for U14’s and Smith won the U13s. Scottburgh’s Caleb Daley won the U14 Boys Iron Nipper.
Botha, earlier in the week, claimed the gold in the U14 Run/Swim/Run and Smith took the honours in the U13 Run/Swim/Run to take her National Nipper titles to 10. Botha has also in 2018 won two Interprovincial Surf Lifesaving Titles and four South African Open Water Lifesaving Titles.
Botha is the daughter of South African Lifesaving icon Dylan Botha, while brother Connor is without equal among the country’s U16s.
(Tannah) Smith, so impressive in the Nipper Iron and Run/Swim/Run, was surprisingly beaten in the U13 Surf Swim, when Clifton’s Savannah Voight powered to victory in a dramatic final few metres.
Voight’s stunning victory aside, Tuesday’s action also provided a fairytale win for the Body Board Team from the Scottburgh Lifesaving Club Boys in the U10 age group.
There was also an upset win in the Boys U13 Surf Swim when Elijah Dredge of Tuks created history in securing the first win from an inland club of a major ocean swimming event.
Durban Surf has for the past five years been without comparison among the Nipper and Junior Clubs, both at Interprovincials and National Championships. This week has been more of the same with wonderful performances from Durban Surf’s squad in all Nipper and Junior age groups.
Botha and Smith led the way in the U14 and U13 age group respectively and Durban Surf’s Caine Letscher and Gemma Footit also triumphed. Letscher won the Boys U12 Body Board Event and Footit was first in the U12 Malibu Board Race as Durban Surf edged Fish Hoek into second place.
Ozzy Aromin continued the trend of Durban Surf taking gold when he beat race favourite Naor Lombard (Clifton) in the U14 Surf Swim.
King’s Beach’s Joshua Voight beat (Caleb) Daley in the final of the U14 Beach Run and made it double in taking the Beach Sprint. Scottburgh’s Christina Stanton also completed the double in winning the U14 Female Beach run and the Beach Sprint.
The brilliant Amica de Jager, equally good in the Pool and Surf, won the Girls 14-18 LC metre obstacle race at Newton Park, while Marine’s Sasha-Lee Corris Nordengeden was also strong in the heats.
Team South Africa’s (Durban Surf) Milan Erasmus was also dominant in the Boys 14-18 Linethrow.