Two of Clifton Surf Lifesaving Club’s finest will be joining up with friendly rivals False Bay SLC and donning their club colours when they travel to the Netherlands to compete in the Lifesaving World Championships, in September.
For Bia van Heerden, 18, and Raphael Jeftha, 27, it will be a chance to pit themselves against top-class athletes and see exactly how they fair against the best in the world.
They will be competing in the world inter-club section of the competition as part of False Bay surf, headed up by beach sprints and flags world champion, Ryle de Morny.
Although Van Heerden has been a top achiever in the junior divisons for the last three years, with excellent showing at both regional and national championships, this will be a big step for her as she takes to the beaches in Noordvijk and Eindhoven.
“I only started competing in the sport around three years ago and since then have done my best to keep improving my skills. I love being part of this team and admire the spirit and dedication they show for lifesaving. I am one of the youngest members of the team and appreciate all the mentoring I receive from them.
“The competition season was a good one for me this year. I came first in the long run as well as sprints and flags in the under-19 division at Western Province champs.
“From there I was selected to represent the Western Cape team at inter-provincials and came second in flags and sprints but was part of the winning mixed relay team.
“Competing at nationals in the inter-club section I came first in flags and second in sprints as well as second in the long run and was selected to the Lifesaving South Africa surf academy squad.
“I am most looking forward to being exposed to a while new level of competition at world champs and getting to watch the best of the best compete. I am so grateful for this opportunity,” she said.
For Jeftha, a provincial and national junior track sprint champion in his younger days, the evolution to a beach event specialist came with its own set of challenges. After qualifying as a lifeguard straight out of school, he had a stint in the United States as a professional guard. His first taste for the competition side of lifesaving came in 2009.
“I had two surgeries to my knee in 2006 and 2009 and at SA champs in Durban, I again ended up injuring myself.
“I have always been a competitive person by nature and it was a driving factor in my earlier years when I was part of Bellville Athletics Club and was a reigning WP and SA track sprint champion from 2001 to 2004.
“My competition season did not go as great as I had hoped this year, not according to the standards I usually set for myself.
“At WP champs I came in 5th and 6th for flags and sprints, respectively, and at nationals bombed out in the semi’s. However, a major positive for me is that I came out with no injuries or niggles which means I am on the right track as far as my conditioning goes. I just need to get the speed and endurance back.
“Prepping for a race, I like to listen to psy trance and eat jelly tots – there’s nothing like hype music and sugar to get you through the process and strangely enough ,I find it helps me focus on the task ahead of me and just zone out,” he said.
Team captain Ryle de Morny, fresh from international competition at the Sanyo Cup in Japan, will be looking to retain his champion status in the Netherlands but before they can even get there, the team still has some fund-raising to do.
“We have been working hard to raise funds and have had to put in a massive effort. We have done street collections, shadow shifting at restaurants, knocking on every door we can and creating some hype and awareness on social media.
“With the trip being to Europe we are at an even bigger disadvantage with the exchange rate but we are staying positive and believe that our efforts will be rewarded. I head out on September 2 to represent SA and the team will follow shortly after to compete in the inter-club section and our relay team will represent SA as national champions,” said De Morny.
The team have set up an online crowd funding account via Indiegogo at www.generosity.com/sports-fundraising/false-bay-take-on-rescue-2016 or you can contact De Morny on 083 640 7310.