Surf Lifesaving

Surf lifesaving started in Australia and spread to South Africa during the 1930's, with the first World Championships held in Durban in 1974. Surf Lifesaving Clubs were first formed in Natal in 1927/28 in Durban and on the mid-south coast. 1933 saw the formation of the Surf Lifesaving Association of South Africa (SLASA), the participants being the nine clubs then in operation. Lifesaving in the Eastern Cape was re-established in 1950, after a lapse of 18 years, by the East London Surf Lifesaving Club. Western Province clubs were established and affiliated from 1958. Competitve lifesaving involves various disciplines using boats and paddle craft, as well as running on the beach - while the swimmers feature in the surf swims and reel alarm rescue events.

South African swimmers, like Springboks Geoff Grylls, Ricky Colepepper, world record holder Jonty Skinner, Kevin Richards, Graham Hill, Nicky Gray, Paul Blackbeard and many others have always been a part of the sport

Click here to see a video of surf swims including Kevin Richards, Graham Hill, Julian Taylor and Hugh Ross.

Springbok teams have competed internationally, including an Australian tour to South Africa in 1954, an appearance in Australia during the 1956 Olympic Games (not part of the Games). The Springboks toured Australia in 1967 1969 and 1971 when they also competed in New Zealand. The 1971 tour was blighted by anti-South African protestors action. SLASA chairman Neville Gracie was also to come the President of SAASU in 1959.

Australian surf lifesaving tour of South Africa in 1954


Click here to see a 1940 video of female lifesavers in South Africa performing a drill.  Click here for a 1943 video about Cape Town female lifesavers - called Women Lifesavers - Life Saving Girls.

And follow this link to 1959 video of South African lifesavers.

Many swimmers have competed in surf lifesaving, winning Springbok colours at international events. Jonty Skinner - who set a world record for the 100m freestyle in 1976 - gained his swimming colours after he had represented South Africa in surf lifesaving, against Australia in 1972.

Others like Lee McGregor, Graham Hill and Kevin Richards also became double Springboks, while Paul Blackbeard was a triple Springbok, for representing South Africa at both surf and still water lifesaving - where he held the world record for 200m obstacle race.

1979 Springbok Surf lifesaver Paul Blackbeard - tour to the USA

Lifesaving Springbok Graham Hill, Brett Pengelly and Julian Taylor. Julian set two Masters world records at the 2004 at the International Lifesaving Federation Championships in Livorno, Italy.

Another legend of South African swimming - and lifesaving - Geoff Grylls set world records for the still water lifesaving 200m obstacle race at the Livorno world championships in 2004 and Goolong in 2006.

More in this category: « Annette Cowley Swimming Clubs »

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