Champs will see some fierce beach, pool and ocean rivalry
NIPPERS: Sixty-six junior surf lifesavers from Tannum Sands Surf Lifesaving Club (TSSLSC) are about to test their skills, speed and endurance in the Wide Bay Capricorn Junior Branch Championships tonight at the Gladstone Aquatic Centre and Tannum Beach tomorrow and Sunday.
The Wide Bay section is made up of Hervey Bay, Elliott Heads, Bundaberg, Moore Park and Agnes Water while the Capricorn section is made up of Yeppoon, Emu Park and Tannum Sands.
Junior activities chair Gary Churchward is expecting almost 300 competitors to attend.
"The host is alternated between a Wide Bay club and a Capricornia club each year and it is our turn this year with the numbers on par with previous years which is good," he said.
TSSLSC Ocean coach John Andrews hopes the clubs dominance continues this year and is looking to take out the Branch Championships for a ninth consecutive year.
"Our numbers attending are up a little from last year which will help," he said.
"I am confident we have some solid competitors in all the age groups especially the under-12s, U13s and U14s who have the numbers and depth to make some very strong teams.
"They have been training hard and their skills and confidence are growing on the back of a recent development camp we had at Dicky Beach on the Sunshine Coast in early January.
"We had some pretty tricky conditions on camp but they handled it well and impressed the locals with their surf skills."
While the older competitors are expected to take control of their competition, the younger ones will also take the opportunity to hone their racing skills and soak up the bigger carnival experience.
"There might be some challenging conditions for some of them with the winds predicted to swing back to east to south-east and it could increase the swell a bit and be a bit choppy, but nothing our Tannum Nippers can't handle especially with the home ground advantage," Andrews said.
Tannum Nippers are also expected to dominate the beach with the 'beachies' speed and agility to go on show.
Beach coach Fiona Harrison has kept the sprinters on their toes at training.
"Beach events are all about speed, lightning reflexes and power to make sure you are quick off the mark and then motor your way across the beach," she said.
"We have some very fast nippers and some have won medals at Youth States in previous years, so we are hoping for some high level racing."
The results from this event are most important to the U11 age group, who need to finish in the top-six to be eligible to compete at the Queensland Youth Surf Life Saving Championships at Burleigh Heads SLSC from March 8-10.
The winning teams in the Beach Relay, Surf Teams, Board Relay and Cameron Relay events at the Branch Championships will also qualify to go to the states.Rebecca Devine