Snell out for third Champion Lifesaver gold
A nagging bursa in his shoulder won’t stop Northcliffe’s Stuart Snell from striving for his own personal slice of Australian Surf Life Saving history at this year’s DHL 2011 Aussies at Kurrawa from April 2-10.
Snell, 31, is the two-time and defending Champion Lifesaver in 2009 and 2010 and gold in 2011 will make him only thesecond competitor to win three in a row.
The original Champion Lifesaver Trent Balym from Currumbin actually won fivetitles between 1998 and 2002.
“I’ve been out of the water for a couple of weeks and have had cortisone injections but the thought of winning three in a row has kept me going,” says Snell, who came to Australia from Welsh club Southerdowns eight seasons ago.
“To win a third Australian Championship would be amazing but it’s not going to be easy, the competition is always tough and this year will be no different.”
Snell is among surf lifesaving’s unsung heroes – an Ironman in his own right who is a regular in the Coolangatta Gold.
The Champion Lifesaver event consists of physical events – the surf race; board race; tube race with fins and beach sprint as well as patient assessment, resuscitation on a manikin, and theory.
Snell, a schoolteacher at Surfers Paradise State School, combines his Ironman training with his theory and practical training every week.
“I swim four to five swim sessions up to six kilometres a session; two to three board sessions, plus running and ski training and we get together every week for the practical sessions and I try and read up on my theory a couple of nights a week as well,” said Snell.
“It is challenging but very rewarding and actually quite nerve-wracking on competition day, not knowing how you have gone until the very end when they start reading out the results from sixth to first.”
Snell is also a member of the champion Northcliffe Patrol Team, who are trying to stretch their winning streak to ten as they attempt to equal the legendary Currumbin Vikings team that won ten straight between 1992 and 2001.
Victory will also be sweet for Damien Moffrey and Trent Rowe who will set what will be an extraordinary record of ten straight gold medals as members of the victorious Northcliffe team.
No Australian lifesaver has ever won eight straight, let alone nine or ten and Moffrey and Rowe will certainly write their names into the annals of Surf Life Saving history if they can pull off this extraordinary feat.
It will also be a special time for former South Australian youngsterJake Nicholson, recruited into the team for Emma McKenzie and who joins Snell, Moffrey, Rowe, Kathryn McKenzie and Nic Pluimers in the all-conquering squad.
Northcliffe's 2009 champion patrol team(L-R): Emma McKenzie, Kathryn McKenzie, Damien Moffrey, Trent Rowe, Stuart Snell, Nick Pluimers.
Nicholson continues the Grange connection in the Northcliffe team, which saw Adam Jones (a member of the Grange six that won silver to Currumbin in 2000) transfer to Northcliffe in 2004 for the first of his seven gold medals.
Honour Roll since 2000
Champion Lifesaver – Open Male
2000-01:T.Balym (Currumbin Beach)
2001-02:T.Balym (Currumbin Beach)
2003-04: F.Taylor (Northcliffe)
2004-05:B.Dowker (North Burleigh)
2005-06:B.Dowker (North Burleigh)
2006-07: M.White (Alexandra Headland)
2007-08:M.White (Alexandra Headland)
Champion Lifesaver – Open Female
2003-04:J.Bodger (Point Lookout)
2005-06:E.Curtis (North Burleigh)
2007-08: M.Pelly (Manly)
2008-09: K.Thornton (Alexandra Headland)
2009-10: M.Pelly (Manly)
Freshie's proud R&R history
The Freshwater club on Sydney’s Northern Beaches has a long and proud history when it comes to one of the original events on the SLSA program, the Rescue and Resuscitation or R and R.
The club has won eight National R and R titles – including the coveted Six Person R and R, named in honour of one of the movement’s most celebrated president’s, the judge Sir Adrian Curlewis, on five occasions.
Freshwater will arrive at Kurrawa this year determined to add another gold medal to their impressive tally and defend the title they won in 2009 and write some more history.
The team of Alan Burns, Ian Donald, Wayne Freakley, Peter Obern, Chris Tyrell and Jo Kirkby, coached by Ken Priest, turned the clock back almost 50 years when they won the flag two years ago and have made just one change to that team for 2011 with Donna Kelleher coming in for Kirkby.
It will be a major step back in time for Freakley, a member of the club’s 1978 NSW State Championship winning team that ran third to North Cronulla at the Aussies at Kingscliff – over 30 years ago.
Burns (pictured below left) will also chalk up a remarkable milestone, pulling the belt for the club and celebrating his 60th birthday – 43 years after winning silver for Clovelly in the under 18 surf teams in 1968.
Freakley praised Burns and admitted he has an unwritten contract that once he is slower than 30 seconds behind in the swim then it’s time to retire.
“He’s a remarkable beltman, still going strong after all these years and doesn’t look like slowing down; he’s certainly an inspiration,” said Freakley, who was also equally in awe of Obern, himself a former Australian under 16 and 18 surf teams winner, who swims the belt in the 5-man team.
Freshie were crowned National champions four times between 1953 and 1960, producing an impeccable record that saw them unbeaten in 15 starts in 1958-59.
Their success came under the instruction of one of lifesaving’s toughest task masters in Lionel McDonald and included Australian representatives Ray “Soccer” Matheson, John Mills, Barry Lumsdaine, Jock McPhee and Don ‘Ducker” Williams, who were joined by the likes of ABC TV commentator Norman “Nuggett” May, 1948 Olympic swimmer Bruce Bourke, Clarrie Williams, Dick Evans, George Mullins and John Forbes.
Maroochydore R&R boys on the comeback trail
It seems it’s the season for aquatic comebacks with Libby Trickett, Michael Klim and Ian Thorpe back in the water and now former Australian R and R champions Maroochydore are getting in on the act. The 2011 Aussies will see the return to competition of the 2004 National Champions in both the Open 5 Man and the Senior 6 Person events after the team retired in 2006.
The team of David McBurnie, John Sayers, Dr. Andrew Staib, Danny Short, John Baxter andJae Marr will once again be coached by R and R legend, Len Harris, a former Australian champion and Australian champion coach with Bondi, Coogee and Maroochydore.
Short and Baxter, have been outstanding surf swimmers, sharing in Maroochydore’s 1993 Taplin Relay win with one of the great line ups which included Olympian Clint Robinson, Kirk Jarrott, Ashley Massie and Heath Collie and taking silver with Maroochydore in the open surf teams in 1996, while Short also tasted gold in the victorious Taplin teams of 1994 and 1997.
In the first couple of sessions there was stiffness of the joints, but their overall drill showed they still had it, although sometimes when they arrived for training it was like a mobile crèche turning up at the beach.
Win lose or draw, there will be a big support crew for Maroochydore’s “Dad’s Army” when they turn back the clock at The Aussies, with the R and R scheduled for Broadbeach between April 7 and 10.
Honour Roll since 2000
Curlewis 6 Person R&R Mixed
2000-01: Swansea Belmont (T.Allen, S.Davis, D.Hayes, G.Hayes, N.McGregor, M.Ross)
2001-02: Swansea Belmont (T.Allen, S.Davis, D.Hayes, G.Hayes, N.McGregor, M.Ross)
2002-03: Wanda (K.Melville, T.Lee, G.McKirdy, B.Douglas, G.Sandstrom, C.Ricketts)
(J.Baxter, J.Marr, D.McBurnie, J.Sayers, D.Short, A.Staib,)
2004-05: Wanda (B.Douglas, T.Lee, G.McKirdy, K.Melville, C.Ricketts, G.Sandstrom)
(A.McEncroe, A.Nezval, N.Nezval, M.Pollard, S.Watkins, W.Hardman)|
2006-07: Wanda (G.McKirdy, B.Douglas, K.Melville, T.Lee, G.Sandstrom, S.Smith)
2007-08: Bondi (B.Mison, A.Nezval, M.Pollard, S.Watkins, A.McEncroe, N.Nezval)
2008-09: Freshwater (A.Burns, I.Donald, W.Freakley, J.Kirkby, P.Obern, C.Tyrrell)
5 Person R&R Open Women
2000-01:Southport (C.Baker, J.Bruce, E.Goeldner, S.Neil, H.Williams)
2001-02:Coogee (K.Bunton, L.Bunton, J.Dubos, L.Diver-Tuck, S.Hoiles)
2002-03:Ocean Grove (A.Crammond, L.Crammond, E.Luttrell, E.Sewell, S.Stratton)
2003-04:Wanda (A.Harris, L.McHugh, N.Rees, A.Richmond, J.Swan)
2004-05:Wanda (K.Allum, I.Bergersen, K.Hammerton, B.Hughes, N.Robbins)
2005-06:Bondi (J.Ashley, M.Hingston, ,K.Miller,L.Santos, J.Heatrick)
2006-07:Bondi (J.Ashley, M.Hingston, K.Miller, L.Santos, J.Heatrick)
2007-08:Bondi (J.Ashley, M.Hingston, K.Miller, L.Santos, J.McMillan)
2008-09:Bondi (J.Ashley, S.De Lorenzo, K.Miller, L.Santos, J.McMillan)
5 Person R&R Open Men
2000-01:Wanda (B.Douglas, I.Kerz, G.McKirdy, C.Ricketts, G.Sandstrom)
2001-02:Coogee (J.Carter, M.Fernandez, B.Mison, T.Mison, T.Mison)
2002-03:Swansea Belmont (T.Allen, S.Davis, D.Hayes, G.Hayes, M.Ross)
2003-04:Maroochydore (J.Baxter, D.McBurnie, J.Sayers, D.Short, A.Staib)
2004-05:Burleigh Heads-Mowbray Park (B.Crichton, P.Hollingworth, B.Dixon, M.White, C.Wetherall)
2005-06:Swansea Belmont (M.Baldock, D.Hayes, G.Hayes, M.Ross, P.Watts)
2006-07:Freshwater (A.Burns, I.Donald, W. Freakley, D.Jones, C.Tyrrell)
2007-08:Swansea Belmont (P.Cosgrove, D.Hayes, G.Hayes, M.Ross, M.Smith)
2008-09:Wanda (B.Douglas, T.Lee, K.Melville, S.Smith, B.McCrindle)
5 Person R&R Mixed
2008-09:Collaroy (P.De Kort, P.Ducker, P.McDermott, E.McKie, T.Ware
2009-10: Not held