Rain doesn’t dampen spirits at conclusion of 2024 Queensland Youth Surf Lifesaving Championships

March 24, 2024

The steady rain couldn’t dampen the spirits or racing on the final day of the 2024 Queensland Youth Surf Lifesaving Championships with Under 11s through to Under 15s battling it out for State Title honours at North Kirra.

The U15 Ironmen and Ironwomen capped off an incredible day of racing, with Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park and Maroochydore taking home the Matthew Barclay Memorial Trophies.

U15 girls Ironman winner Imogen Dowker (BHMP), said she was incredibly honoured to win the Memorial race after Matthew’s dad Steve spoke to them all prior to the race.

“I think I’m cramping up now and my goggles are filled with sand but that’s ok. It was definitely one of the toughest races I have ever done, and that sandbank has gotten a lot longer so all you’re relying on is your legs to be honest.

“I feel very honoured to win this race. I am sure all the girls surrounding each other were very appreciative and it’s really good to do it for Matthew.”

Winner of the Matthew Barclay U15 Ironman Memorial Trophy, Stanley Jarrott said he stoked to win being from Maroochydore, Matthew’s Surf Lifesaving Club.

“I am stoked to win that. I was lucky enough to get on the faster board paddlers wash and then just trying to get a wave on the way in. I feel honoured to win it knowing I am from Matthew club at Maroochydore, so it’s a good feeling.

“It was hard, it was especially hard racing that (sand) bank. It was so tough trying to run across that, but I got there in the end.

“Maroochydore is a great team. We’ve got lots of young nippers coming through and lots of people in the opens which is so good. Now it’s back to hard training and then tapering up to Aussies.”

On the other end of the age groups, it was a clean sweep in the U11 Ironwoman race with Sunshine Beach SLSC’s, Isabel Czajkowskyj, Billie Berg and Nellie Heffernan placing first, second and third respectively.

“It’s so good to be around so many good people and train with good people to push you, it’s a great club,” said Billie Berg.

Liam Wright (Sunshine Beach) dominated the U12 boys’ finals with gold in the Ironman, Board and Surf races.

“Yeah, it was really hard. All the boys tried their best and it was such a fun race. Everyone did so well. I was so tired when I got out of the water at the sand bank, it felt like my legs weren’t working but I could hear the crowd, so I didn’t stop, and I just went for it. I wanted it so bad.

“I am going to celebrate now with all my friends, everyone at the club, all the coaches. The club is awesome. It’s the nicest club, I’m so happy.”

In the Surf Races, the Short siblings, Raphael and Clara, (Maroochydore) used motivation from cousin and Olympic swimmer Samuel Short to bring home the Bronze and Silver Medals respectively in the U13 and U12 age groups with Clara also taking home silver in the U12 Ironwoman.

“He is a big inspiration for us. He grew up like us with nippers and now he races at the Olympics and may even get a world record, it’s crazy,” said Raphael Short.

Clara, who recently won a silver medal in the School Sport Australia Aquathlon in Perth last week said she loved running and swimming and hoped she too could maybe compete at the Olympics one day like her cousin.

In the battle of the Club points, the bragging rights went to Gold Coast powerhouse North Burleigh with Burleigh Heads Mowbray Heads nipping on their heels in second place with Maroochydore rounding out the Top three.

Brad Rodgers, North Burleigh Junior Activities President, reflected on what the Championship win means for his Club.

“It’s amazing.  Not just for the kids but also the coaches and really the whole club… everyone puts in a huge effort. For our nippers, this is the pinnacle of the season and it’s just wonderful for all kids.

“The team events in particular are something we hang our hat on. The kids give extra when they are competing in the team events and for us it’s also about building a club culture.

“I think the really great thing to see today is just how close the point score was in the end.  It shows just how healthy our sport is really is and how lots of clubs are building. We want to have more clubs healthy in size and depth… it makes the sport sustainable.

“There was nothing separating the top three, but also great to see smaller Clubs like Sunshine Beach, Alexandra Headland, Tallebudgera, Mermaid, really growing in their depth,” he said.