Established in 1953, Rox lifesaving club is one of the most iconic lifesaving clubs in South Africa. According to club chairman Paul Bergset this is largely due to the fact that the club has had a successful intake of Nippers over the past few years. Nippers ends at U14 level and then the kids become juniors. “At junior level all the kids have to complete their lifeguard award, which teaches them how to be lifesavers and then they all have to do lifesaving duty in order to compete in lifesaving as a sport. On any given Sunday or public holiday, you will see professional lifeguards and junior lifeguards doing duty and keeping the public safe.”
He says the club is exceptionally proud of their young competitors, particularly those who have proven themselves on a local and international level. In the last few years members Seb Garreau, Matthew Maroun, Shane Maguire, Connor Botha and Paige Horn have been selected to represent South Africa and Connor and Paige will be attending the World Lifesaving Championships in Adelaide this month.
Matthew (17) was a member of the SA team last year and received an award for bravery earlier this year.
Tell us about the rescue that led to your bravery award? The rescue took place in front of my house in Umdloti. I had the day off from training and racing and was relaxing at home when my dad started shouting and calling me. He spotted a swimmer in distress about 400 meters out to sea. I grabbed my malibu board, went out into the 10-foot waves and managed to get a break and got out. I got to the patient and waited with him until a jet ski was launched from the beach to take him in. I got back into the beach where I told the local lifeguards
about the rescue. They told me that the surf was too big for them to attempt the rescue. A few witnesses had also said that the ocean was unsafe to enter and that no normal person would have even thought of going out. I was then nominated for the bravery award.
Why would you encourage other youngsters to do this sport? It is a very social sport and we have a lot of fun taking part. It is also a great way to learn about the ocean and its hazards. It teaches you to be more comfortable in the ocean and I think that if more people did lifesaving, it would make the beaches a safer place.
Paige (15) started lifesaving when she was 10 years old. She will this month be representing South Africa in the world championships in the U19 team (despite being only 15).
What do you love about this sport? I love that it’s never boring – the sea is unpredictable and you never know what is going to happen. I love the ocean and sport, so lifesaving is the perfect combination. I also love meeting new people and forming friendships that last forever.
Your whole family have qualified as lifeguards. What is it like being a part of such a dedicated lifesaving family? It’s very helpful to have my parents wiling to get up in the mornings and afternoons and take me to training and school – and still get to work themselves. They are so supportive and do everything in their power to help me achieve my dreams.
Connor Botha (16) is representing South Africa for the second year in a row in Adeleide this month.
What do you think led to this achievement at such a young age? I believe my self-belief and commitment have helped me achieve this honour at such a young age.
Why would you encourage other youngsters to do this sport? This sport teaches you how to respect the ocean, but also gives life lessons in how to conduct yourself as a person. It shows you that you are never stronger than nature and gives you a reason to push your limits, and become a better, stronger person to try beat your limits. You also get the opportunity to travel the world.
Details: [email protected]
Text: Leah Shone