By Justin Flynn
It’s official – Ocean Grove has the best surf life saving club in the state.
The club took top honours in the 2017 Victorian Senior Lifesaving Championships held at Port Fairy with a record margin.
The club, named the overall Champion Club of the Year, was dominant in the surf over the two days of competition. With a team of just over 50, many of whom had come through the club’s Nippers program, Ocean Grove won more than 60 medals on its way to the big win.
More than 750 lifesavers from more than 30 Victorian lifesaving clubs competed in the two-day championship event hosted by Port Fairy SLSC.
In the end it was Ocean Grove SLSC, led by team manager Bruce Sampson, which dominated on the surf and sand, winning the overall points score by more than 100 points.
The dedication of OGSLSC’s coaches, particularly head coach Sonia Kinsey and long-serving ski-coach Bill Strachan was a key component in the victory.
Kinsey was full of praise for her team members, pointing out that most of her mainly young team have been training twice a day, six days a week, for many months leading into the championships.
“The kids have worked really hard and there were a bunch of juniors who doubled up in races so they did twice the amount of work they usually do,” she said.
“They’ve worked hard as a group. Everyone involved in that group is just as important as the next person. Boys and girls mixing together, of all ages. They’ll be back training seven days a week for the Aussies.”
The team head to the Australian Championships on the Gold Coast from 25 March to 2 April.
That hard work paid off with some spectacular results at the Victorian Championships.
Young team members took out the Open and U19 Ironman and Iron Woman events, as well as the U17 Ironman, and a number of the prestigious Taplin team events. The U17 Men, won gold, silver and bronze in their ski relay, and medals in every other event. The U19 women won gold in seven events and the U15s took out both male and female board relays and surf team events.
However, Kinsey made it clear that the win was a team effort.
“There’s just a really good team feeling,” she said.
“They’re really easy to coach because they’re pumped to be here – they’re all mates. They socialise together, everyone’s included – that’s the key to our success.”
For more pictures, see page 10.