Sawtell finds its stroke ahead of Country Championship

TRAINING HARD: Greg Russell (in white) preps the Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club ahead of the NSW Life Saving Country Championship.
TRAINING HARD: Greg Russell (in white) preps the Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club ahead of the NSW Life Saving Country Championship. Keagan Elder

SAWTELL Surf Life Saving Club has upped its odds of improving on last year's performance at the NSW Life Saving Country Championships.

The championships will be held at South West Rocks once again in February, the same location Sawtell SLSC bagged a haul of medals across a number of age divisions in 2016.

Overall, Sawtell finished fifth out of 37 teams while Coffs Harbour Surf Life Saving Club came third.

Sawtell SLSC president Leanne James said she expected the open age group, under-19 and U17 groups to perform particularly well at this year's event.

"We should get lots of medals in the opens, U19s and U17s,” she said.

James said the Sawtell club would send down its largest team for a number of years, if not ever, and confidently backed each athlete.

She said Sawtell SLSC would send down 90 athletes, far more than the 75 which competed last year.

There will be members aged from under-eight through to 60 competing.

James said club members had been training on an almost year round basis and were in good shape.

"In the school holidays the kids have been putting in the extra practice,” she said.

Sawtell SLSC senior water coach Greg Russell helped push the club through its paces on Wednesday at Jetty Beach.

He said he was impressed with the effort put in by each member.

"There isn't a single kid here who hasn't achieved their goals,” Russell said.

"We're expecting everyone to be happy with their performance (at South West Rocks).”

Even though it is just two weeks into 2017, Russell said he had been swept up in training duties.

"It's been very hectic this year. Increased numbers, increased intensity,” he said.

"At the moment we're training seven days a week and often twice a day.”

He said training had started in winter.

James said this reflected on the strength of the club which had grown in strength and numbers.

She said as more juniors joined the club more adults joined too.

"Our masters have increased. You might as well train while your kids train,” she said.

The NSW Life Saving Country Championships will be held over February 4-5.

There will be a range of events, including the surf boat races, beach runs and board rescue races.

More than 4000 people are expected to attend, including about 1500 competitors from across country NSW - outside of the Newcastle-to-Illawarra corridor.

The NSW Life Saving Country Championships will act as preparation for the State and National titles which will come up later in the year.

Topics:  coffs coast sport jetty beach