Kwazulu-Natal’s Tatum Botha is earmarked to be among the stars at the 2021 DHL Lifesaving South Africa National Club Championships. Sport 24, in partnership with DHL and LSA, previews the athletes who will make the biggest splash.
Botha, just 17 years-old, will dominate the juniors and if the Covid protocols allow for juniors competing at senior level, the winning habit should be extended to podium finishes with the country’s best veterans.
The Botha family is synonymous with Lifesaving in South Africa, with brother Connor leading the next generation of male athletes and dad Dylan an iconic figure in the competitive world of Lifesaving as a sport and in the community service of Lifesaving.
Botha senior represented South Africa in Australia in 1992, was the National Surf champion twice, won numerous interprovincial and provincial titles and has coached Durban Surf Nippers for 14 years.
He understandably is the biggest influence on his daughter and son Connor’s blossoming sporting careers.
(Connor) Botha, currently in France, won’t be competing in this year’s nationals but the Botha name is expected to feature prominently with Dylan in the Masters and especially Tatum, be it at junior or senior level.
(Tatum) Botha, under the guidance of former South African Olympic swimming coach Graham Hill, won the u19 surf swim at the International Surf Rescue Challenge at Durban’s North Beach in 2019, but because of Covid restrictions there was little international opportunity to add to her silverware in 2020.
The National Club Championships were cancelled in 2020 and, in keeping with Covid regulations and protocols, the 2021 entries number 1000, when traditionally close to 2000 masters, seniors, juniors and nippers would take to the pool, surf and sand in 500-plus events.
Botha, whose international ambitions in 2021, have been stalled because of Covid travel restrictions out of South Africa, has set her sights on making Team South Africa’s swimming squad for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and also the national SA team for the World Lifesaving Champs to be held in Italy.
A season in Australia, competing in the Nutri-Grain Lifesaving series, is also a possibility, with her brother Connor having been successful when training and competing in Australia in 2019.
Tatum Botha (Supplied)
For now, it is the DHL National Club Championships, in Gqeberha from 2nd to the 9th October that is Botha’s focus.
"Outside of swimming, Surf Lifesaving is my passion," says Botha. "Who wouldn’t love it – surf, sun and beautiful people. It is a competitive sport where you can have fun, get fit and meet amazing people from all over the world. I love it. Anything over a 400 metres swim is what I love, be it in the pool, dam or surf."
Botha, who is among Speedo’s South African ambassadors, started Lifesaving as an 8 year-old and hopes that in the next decade the sport will become an Olympic sport. If not, her Olympic ambitions will be through swimming.
She currently competes for the Umhlanga Surf Lifesaving Club and in 2020 also spent time with the Northcliffe Surf Club in Australia.
She is among an elite grouping who competes in the Pool and Surf Swims, Board and Iron Lady disciplines.
"I am comfortable in the pool and the surf and have a few board and ski paddles but swimming is my strength and favourite event."
DHL Lifesaving National Championships Schedule
2 to 4 October - Senior Surf
4 – 5 October - Juniors Surf
4 – 5 October - Nippers Pool
6 – 9 October - Nippers Surf
6 - 9 October – Senior and Juniors Pool