SA Lifesaving (Photo: Anthony Grote)
Fittingly, the iconic Dylan Botha was among the winners on the final day of the DHL Lifesaving South Africa National Championships in Gqeberha.
More than 1000 of the country’s lifesaving specialists competed in the surf and sand at Kings Beach and the pool at Newton Park, with the masters concluding the pool action on Saturday and the nippers finishing off the surf events.
The seniors and juniors started the championships in the surf a week ago, got a day off and then finished an intense week of competition in the pool.
Umhlanga’s (Dylan) Botha is one of the biggest names in South African lifesaving history, having represented the national team in the 1970s and he has had a lifetime involvement with the sport.
Botha, 47, won the 200 LC metres Obstacle in the masters division, age category (45-49).
His son Connor (Botha) was the star of the 2019 championships among juniors, but he is currently overseas and was not available for the 2021 National Championships.
Connor’s sister, the uber talented 16 year-old Tatum Botha was in Gqeberha and she was outstanding in winning the Iron title in the u17 division.
Botha’s impressive form and season earned her a national call-up for South Africa’s participation at the Africa Games in Egypt from 1st to 5th December.
Clifton Lifesaving club thrived as a collective and won the overall senior and junior surf championship, with 17 year-olds Naor Lombard and Holly Cleworth very impressive.
Durban Surf’s Melissa Corbett also enjoyed a great Championship, winning the flags and sprint double.
Kwazulu-Natal, traditionally a powerhouse, had a strong presence through Durban Surf, Marine and Umhlanga Rocks.
Marine’s men and women were also tops in the Wimpy Surf Boats championship, which featured nine races over three gruelling successive days.
Durban Surf’s Matthew Allen won the boys u15 division, with three golds and a silver, and club teammate Dayna Deeble won the girls u15 division.
Umhlanga’s Samuel Norton was sensational in winning gold in all four of his events to claim the overall u19 title and Umhlanga’s Sasha Corris, a Team South Africa regular, also enjoyed a strong championship.
On Saturday’s final day, Summerstrand’s Tracy Gous did as she always does at the DHL Lifesaving South Africa Championships – she won gold in the Masters.
Gous, competing in the 40-44 years old section, showed nothing had changed in between wins in 2019 and 2021, with last year’s National Championships cancelled because of Covid.
Summerstrand’s nippers had been the big stars earlier in the week in the pool and it was also a case of ‘local is lekker’ with Kings Beach’s Keegan Cooke was named male athlete of the surf championship, along with Durban Surf’s Iron winner Wade Krieger.
The local athletes continued to excel on the final day in the masters event, with Gous consistent in performance. Other local winners with Kings Beach’s PJ Duffy (in the 50-54 years category), Brian Clarke (55-59 years), Summerstrand’s Jared Jordan (30-34 years), Johan Heath (35-39 years) and Bradley Reen (40-44 years).
Other winners in the masters were: Carryl van Bassen Jongbloet (55, Umhlanga), Derek Morris (62, Umhlanga), Tanya Osborne (47, Marine), Dylan Botha (47, Umhlanga), Gordon Potgieter (49, Seagulls) and Mike Rodda (53, Umhlanga).
Chevan Clarke (Photo: Anthony Grote)
It was a case of the old and the new flourishing in the pool with veteran Tuks’ Johan Lourens superb and Bellville’s 14 year-old Willem Basson equally impressive.
Lourens is just 25 years-old but in the competitive sport of lifesaving that means he has been around for more than a decade. He is Team South Africa’s top pool specialist and will lead the charge in the Africa Games in Egypt from 1st to the 5th December. Lourens is also expected to feature prominently at the World Games in Birmingham, England, in 2022 and he has already qualified for the Games in the 100 LC Metres Manikin with fins.
Lourens, in tandem with Andries Mouton, also led Tuks to gold in the team events.
Tuks’ Kendra du Toit was consistent in victory in the female 17-18 year-old section, Tuks’ Tovre van Zyl was the pick of the winners in the female open division and Durban Surf’s De Jager, Sasha-Lee Corris and Kristin Bellinghan were prominent. In the men’s open category Lourens was his usual self, Andre Mouton had reason to cheer and Tuks’s Robbie le Roux had a very strong and successful week.
Team South Africa – 2021 ILS Africa Championships taking place from 1 – 5 December 2021 at Alexandria.
Amica de Jager
Len-Douglas Mc Kay