Alnwick District Swimming and Lifesaving Club braved the elements at Blyth last weekend, joining over 200 competitors on the beach to compete in the annual Lifeguard Beach Carnival.
Hosted by Blyth Lifeguard and Swimming Club, the carnival attracted 17 clubs from across the United Kingdom.
Teams travelled from as far as Belfast, Edinburgh, Leeds and Crawley to test their skills. The Alnwick team fielded competitors in categories from age groups 9-10 all the way to ‘Masters’!
Sport Lifesaving is where participants compete to test their skills in all areas of pool, surf or coastal lifesaving. At Blyth, they were required to compete in three beach-based events, two ocean races and a surf swim.
On land, their running, throwing and rescue skills were tested and in the sea they competed in ‘wading’, boarding and swimming races!
The day started with the Beach Flag game which is probably the most tactical and exciting event. Competitors start lying face down in the sand and on the sound of the starting whistle race down the beach to grab a flag. There is always one less flag than competitors, so after each round one person is eliminated until there is finally a winner.
The longer the game goes on, the more tired the competitors become and mistakes are made.
Eleanor Heeley, nine, and Millie Breese, 10, were first to compete in the 9-10 age group. Eleanor, who is young for this age category, finished in an excellent seventh place and Millie went on to finish second out of the 22 competitors.
Brothers Finlay and Ollie Telfer were next to compete in the 11-12 age group, finishing in fifth and first place. Emma Jackson faced the toughest challenge with more than 60 competitors in the girls 11-12 category. Emma qualified from the first heat in a strong position and went on to finish fifth overall.
The club put out their biggest team in the men’s ‘Masters’ (30+) category.
Unfortunately, an early minor injury slowed down Gareth Breese, who finished in fifth place. Tony Jackson and Mike Telfer were left to battle for medal positions and it was Tony who progressed the furthest, out-sprinting Mike for the two to take silver and bronze positions.
There were also excellent performances from Max Breese and Catherine Jackson in the U15 and U18 events.
In the beach sprints, there were more medal-winning performances with Millie, Emma and Gareth all winning silver and Ollie taking gold.
The throwing event requires the competitors to hurl a lifebuoy as far as they can down the beach. Some impressive throws of over 40m were recorded and the Alnwick team-members performed well.
Ollie managed a bronze medal and Tony took gold, both team-members had taken medals in all the beach-based disciplines and had a good opportunity for challenging for the overall prize at the end of the day.
The ‘wading race’ is a one-lap race running through the surf into waist-deep water then racing as fast as you can parallel to the shore for 200m before exiting the sea. A fast, exhausting race that relies on racing with high knees and not falling over! Ollie Telfer and Millie Breese won their races, with Mike Telfer taking silver in the Masters, Tony Jackson finished just behind Mike for third place adding to his massive medal haul of the day.
The Coastal Challenge race was next – involving a sprint into the sea, followed by a body board ‘paddle’, the competitors then race out of the sea on foot and back along the beach. Boards are then discarded and another lap is contested involving swimming rather than paddling.
There were strong performances from Emma and Catherine Jackson and Eleanor Heeley bravely attacked the course in this exhausting race.
There were more medals for Ollie, Millie, Mike and Tony pushing the team further up the leader board.
The surf looked particularly ominous at 5.30pm for the start of the sea swim. The waves were big enough to quickly lose sight of competitors as they swam out to first buoy. However, Blyth life savers had the course well marked with plenty of support from their strong team of marshals. Only the bravest team members tackled this tough event,
Millie Breese went first finishing third in her race, Finlay Telfer was fifth in the 10-12s, Max Breese an excellent third place in the 13-14s and Catherine Jackson fifth in the 15-17s. There were only two adults competing from Alnwick but Rachel Heeley and Tony Jackson both managed to win bronze medals, an excellent effort.
In the final overall standings, which combine the results of all the events that the competitors contest, Alnwick did well. Millie Breese won the 9 to 10-year-old trophy,
Ollie Telfer won the 11-12. Tony Jackson, with his succession of medal wins in the Masters, was supreme on the day and won the first-place trophy with Mike finishing in third place.
Alnwick managed fifth place in the overall club competition and displayed outstanding team spirit.
Alnwick Swimming and Lifesaving Club meet each week at Willowburn Pool. Enquire at the leisure centre if you are interested and would like to find out more.