Woolacombe double in Devon Stillwater Surf Lifesaving Championships
WOOLACOMBE put in a fantastic performance to achieve double success in the Devon Stillwater Championships.
The club's youth section were crowned champions at Ilfracombe Pool on Saturday and the nippers followed up by claiming their title on Sunday.
Woolacombe's success was kicked off on Saturday by Caitlin Rodgers winning gold in the under-13 manikin carry.
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Coach Richard Lark was pleased by the team's commitment, particularly as a third of the surf lifesavers had never competed at that level.
They were supported by more experienced team members who have become good role models for the new recruits.
Jack Whittaker had an outstanding morning for Woolacombe in the nippers championship, claiming gold in all his individual events.
In the afternoon, there were some fantastic individual performances from Florence Moore and Oliver Hill, who both won medals.
It is a big year for Saunton Sands Surf Lifesaving Club, which celebrates its 50th anniversary and will host the British Lifesaving Sport Surf Championships in August.
The Saunton coaches were proud of the way the youth and nipper teams started the year by finishing second to Woolacombe in both competitions.
Poppy Slattery, in her first year as a junior, stood out in the youth team.
Megan Glenister, Saunton's junior of the year in 2012, continued to impress in the under-19 and fiercely-competitive open age groups.
Craig Berry, Saunton's youth coach, said: "I am really pleased with a good, all-round team performance.
"The competitions are a wonderful opportunity to put into practice many of the important lifesaving skills we have learnt over the winter."
Standout performances in the nippers came from Lilly Wilson, India Martin, sisters Hope and Paige Unstead, Harry Thomas and Toby Watts.
Cara Deasy, a member of Saunton's coaching team, said: "I am really proud of all the nippers.
"They have worked incredibly hard over the winter and participated in the competition with good spirit.
"No one gave up and they all really enjoyed themselves.
"We can't do any of this without the fantastic volunteers who give up their time to work with the children."
Bideford Bay put out their strongest team yet in the youth competition.
The effort they put into winter training showed with impressive stamina and performance levels earning third place.
Luke Parkhouse, the team manager, said: "Our youth team have really raised their game and worked to a training plan designed to enable them to give their best.
"I am not going to call out individuals – it was a real team performance."
Bideford had 40 nippers in action on Sunday when they repeated the youth team's third place – and went close to sneaking into second.
Paul Tobin, the nippers coach, said: "Like the other teams, for many of our eight-year-olds it was the first time they have competed.
"I would like to say a special thank you to them. It is daunting, yet they competed with a smile on their face and plenty of enthusiasm.
"I would also like to thank all the coaches, helpers and officials who made it such a smooth two days of competitions."
Croyde's nippers and youth put in sterling performances over the weekend.
There were some outstanding individual efforts, notably from Alfie Stone and Charlie Taylor in their first competition at youth level.
In the nippers team, Liza Baker won a gold medal in her first contest, while Millie Edge and Holly Nevill bagged a haul of medals, including team gold with Molly Elliott and Jasmine Franklin. Not to be outdone, the boys did well, with Sam Nevill and Zak Baker taking ten medals between them.
Croyde's managers thanked the team members for doing the club proud.