Lifeguards eager to take on the world

Bia van Heerden, far right, is heading to the Netherlands. Here she is pictured against False Bay's Melissa Corbett, left, and Strandfontein's Baigum Abrahams in a flags competition earlier this year.

Two of the University of Cape Town’s top up-and-coming lifeguards will be donning False Bay Surf Lifesaving Club colours when they travel to the Netherlands to compete in the Lifesaving World Championships, in September.

For Bia van Heerden, 18, and Candice Murray, 21, 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, 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 whole 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 Murray, a fourth year physiotherapy student, who has been involved with lifesaving since she was first introduced by her cousin at the tender age of eight, a chance to compete at world champs is something she considers a privilege.

“With my birthday being in October, I was always young for my grade at school but the lifesaving season starts in October, so there I was always one of the oldest competitors in my age group. I enjoyed not being the youngest and smallest for a change.

“I remember once standing on the starting line for a race when my dad told me I had a good chance of medaling in it. I turned around and told him I didn’t think I could do it and I was too nervous. He replied that it was good that I was nervous and that it meant I was ready.

“From that moment I took racing seriously and have enjoyed seeing the results from my training. I have gained different skills for the various events and have been competitive in the water since then.

“I had a very good 2015 season, medaling at WC champs and nationals but I needed to take a break for six months this year and was not able to train or be as competitive as I may have liked. I still took part in competitions in a more social capacity and realised how accomodating this sport can be and it allows you to just have fun. Since March I have been back at training and I can’t wait to see how I do at the world championships,” said Murray.

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.