September 12, 2022

Surf Coast central to lifesaving Games plan

Torquay beaches could host 2026 Commonwealth Games lifesaving events under an audacious bid to include the sport in the program for the first time.

Victorian, Australian and international lifesaving peak bodies have joined forces for the Games campaign, which would introduce pool and surf lifesaving competition at the global sporting festival.

The joint bid has proposed the Surf Coast as its ideal venue for beach events, while pool lifesaving events would be consolidated with an existing aquatics program that is locked in for the Geelong region in 2026 at a yet-to-be-determined venue.

Jan Juc Surf Life Saving Club member and now Life Saving Victoria (LSV) board director of aquatic sport Aaron Green is instrumental to the sport’s push, which he said was an “extremely exciting” prospect for the region.

“We’ve supported the International Lifesaving (ILS) Federation to put forward a bid for pool and ocean events, and recommended these be held in Geelong and on the Surf Coast,” Mr Green said.

“We see this as an incredible opportunity to showcase the natural beauty of our region and our slice of the iconic Great Ocean Road and adjacent beaches to the entire Commonwealth, along with the awe-inspiring athleticism of our competitors.”

The lifesaving bodies’ pitch to Games organisers is to make Australia’s heroes between the flags and on pool decks into heroes at the starting line to showcase their athletes’ talents.

“Many people don’t realise that lifesaving athletes are the same lifesavers who patrol the beach and perform rescues each summer, and we hope to celebrate their incredible commitment and contribution on the Commonwealth stage right here on the Surf Coast in 2026,” Mr Green said.

Life Saving Victoria chief executive officer Cath Greaves said the bid could create a major water sports drawcard for the Surf Coast-Geelong region, while helping springboard lifesaving sports into mainstream awareness.

“If lifesaving were to be successful in becoming a Commonwealth sport, this would open an enormous opportunity for our next generation of lifesavers to build successful careers here in Victoria, knowing they can take their sport to the top level,” she said.

ILS president Graham Ford said the sport would be a perfect addition to the Games: “Lifesaving is synonymous with Australian culture as the nation’s most iconic humanitarian movement,” he said.

Surf Life Saving Australia and Royal Life Saving Society have also supported the bid.

Event organisers, which include the state government and Australian and international Commonwealth Games federations, will soon decide on up to five sports to include in the 2026 program alongside 16 core sports.

Surf Coast Times story here.

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