Surf Lifesaving

This article is not a history of surf lifesaving. It merely serves to provides a context for information about swimmers who also compete in 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.

Many swimmers, including Springboks Geoff Grylls, Ricky Colepepper, Jonty Skinner, Kevin Richards, Graham Hill, Nicky Gray, Lee Mc Gregor, Paul Blackbeard, and Trisha Butcher have also participated in surf lifesaving.

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 protestor's actions. SLASA chairman Neville Gracie also became the President of SAASU in 1959.

Surf and Open Water swimmer Amica de Jager →

1979 Springbok Surf lifesaver Paul Blackbeard - tour to the USA

Lifesaving Springbok Graham Hill, Graham Hill, Brett Pengelly, and Julian Taylor. Julian set two Masters world records in 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.


1959 South African surf lifesavers

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Australian surf lifesaving tour of South Africa in 1954.

Australian surf lifesavers in South Africa.

A lifesaving picture going back to 1969 which also includes some well known swimmers in the group - Ricky Colepeper, Dereck Kuhlmey and Andy Sutherland.
Graham Hill, Des Collopy, Lee McGregor, Derek Kuhmley, Ricky Colepepper, Nicky Gray, Andrew Gray, Candice Crafford, Julian Taylor and others