Billson making a big splash

Carmel Billson has no equal when it comes to the combined talents of Stillwater, Pool and Surf female lifesaving.

Billson, the leading female in the open division at the Stillwater National Championships in early March, added to her status with a combined total of 83 points in the General Tire Lifesaving South Africa National Club Surf and Pool Championships in Port Elizabeth.

Billson, with 48 points, was the leading scorer in the female open division in the pool championships and her 35 points in the surf championships was second to Amica de Jager’s 36.

Billson, with her points at the three respective national championships combined, is the only athlete to score in excess of 100. Her 26 points at the Stillwater championships took her overall tally to 109.

Her form at the senior surf championships, the last of the week-long events, was potent. She took six first places in individual and relay events, two seconds and was never outside the top five.

Billson, who has been the Lifesaving South African female athlete of the year three times in the last four years, won the female open Iron, the run/swim/run and surf swim.

Umhlanga Rocks’ teenage sensation Connor Botha announced his arrival in the most emphatic way in becoming the first teenager to triumph in the men’s surf open division.

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Botha, 17, is the son of legendary South African international lifesaver Dylan Botha.

Durban Surf’s Beach flags and sprint specialist Mandi Maritz proved a class above the rest in taking gold in the flags and sprint.

Her double of 2019 was a repeat of her 2018 double and showed just why she has consistently been ranked in the top three internationally.

She also won silver in the flags at last year’s world championships in Adelaide, Australia. Billson’s week in the pool and surf was brilliant and there was also no stopping the Durban Surf Nippers, who claimed the overall combined surf and pool title for the sixth time in seven years. The only time the kids from Durban Surf haven’t triumphed was last year when inclement weather and the cancellation of several races meant there was no surf championship winner.

Harties Reflection won the Nippers pool championship but they hardly featured in the surf championship.

Fish Hoek were also strong in the Nippers surf championship, losing by two points to Durban Surf. The Fish Hoek seniors made amends by taking the title with Nic Notten and sister Anna Notten getting three golds each on the final day.

(Nic) Notten was named male open competitor of the surf championships.

False Bay sprint and flags veteran Ryle de Morny also completed double gold, to go with his flags’ gold at last year’s world championships in Australia. The week-long surf and pool festival, which combined the Masters, Nippers, Juniors and Seniors, accommodated more than 1700 athletes from 40-plus clubs across the country. Port Elizabeth’s Kings Beach and Newton Park played host to the surf and pool championships respectively.

@mark_keohane


Sunday Tribune

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