December 21st 2009
Nippers test their skills
The waters of Magnetic Island are not only an ideal nursery for fish and corals but for some impressive young surf life savers too.
At the North Australian Surf Lifesaving Titles, held at the end of October in Mackay, three young Islanders showed themselves to be up there with the best. They are 12 year olds, Alyssa Koenen, Mitchell Nugent and Erin McGrath.
The three had to win their events to get into the Queensland Country Surf Lifesaving Team. And they did.
In fact Mitchell and Alyssa took away their age championship for boys and girls respectively by winning the Iron Man's and Women's board races and surf swim while Erin won the beach flags and beach sprints.
Paddling in Alyssa, Mitchell and Erin
Coach and last year's National Titles' (Masters) Bronze Medalist for the Beach Flag's sprint event, Lisa Nugent, told Magnetic Times, To win three events is really rare. They have done an amazing job.
It's the third season of nippering for these athletic youngsters who have now reached the first age group in which one can be eligible for national competitions.
But while Magnetic Island's surf is, at best, modest being within the Great Barrier Reef lagoon the young athletes will always be at a disadvantage when in comes to competitions in non-reef protected beaches. This is what happened when the trio competed at the Queensland Surf Titles on Sunshine Beach at the Sunshine Coast on December 13, where they went up against the best from all across Queensland in big surf.
Sad to say but Erin was the only place getter this time with a third in the sprint. So it's time for a break probably to the beach for the crew before training begins to crank up again in February in preparation for the State Titles in April. Erin, Mitchell and Alyssa have, however, now competed against the same tough opponents they will meet in April. Lets hope that experience pays off.
Story & photo: George Hirst
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