Monday, July 21, 2014
Youngsters from Sidmouth in the country’s newest surf lifesaving club took home a bounty of prizes from the Devon championships on Saturday.
The 20-strong team competed against 200 children from across the county to win nine gold, 10 silver and three bronze medals in the sea off Exmouth.
The Sidmouth Junior Surf Lifesaving Club put their skills to use in various races, including the rescue board and swim and beach sprints.
Dave Manley, the club chairman and team manager, said: “The kids had a really fantastic day, it really brought out the camaraderie between them.
“I am so proud of the whole team.
“To do so well against long established and much larger teams such as Woolacombe and Saunton Sands was just incredible.
“Outstanding performances came from Charley Turley, George Manley, Josh Roberts, Lucy Gosling, Josie Crisp, Will Bolton and Ollie Keast, who all won golds.”
Sidmouth’s is the first new club in the UK in five years, and it is also the fastest growing – it has 55 members and a bustling waiting list.
“The club’s been hugely popular,” Dave added. “I think the appeal is that it’s something quite structured, it’s in the surf so it’s quite cool, and they’re learning skills that will be useful for the rest of their lives.”
He revived a club that used to exist in the 1970s, then based at the Connaught Gardens clock tower, after working as a lifeguard in Australia and North Devon.
The skills the youngsters are learning could see them one day become professional lifeguards or progress in an increasingly popular sport.
The Devon Nippers Surf Lifesaving Competition was a chance for the youngsters to prepare for the nationals, also in Exmouth, from August 16 to 23.
After that, Dave is planning a local derby against the clubs from Exmouth, Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth.
Sidmouth Town Council’s official handover of the club’s seafront Arches HQ takes place tomorrow (Saturday).