Sport24, in partnership with DHL and LSA, previews the athletes who will make the biggest splash at next month's DHL Lifesaving SA National Championships...
Chevan Clarke was a late arrival to competitive Lifesaving, having started racing at 24 years old.
But better late than never for Clarke, who received news of his selection for the national team to compete at the ILS Africa Lifesaving Championships in Egypt from 1-5 December.
"Wow, that was great news and what a lift just before National Champs," he said.
It is the first time Clarke has been picked to represent South Africa.
Clarke is a strong swimmer but his focus in Lifesaving competitions has always been on the beach sprints and flags.
Despite the legendary South African king of the beach sprints, Ryle de Morny confirming his participation at the DHL Lifesaving SA National Championships in Gqeberha in the first week of October, the top billing could belong to Clarke, who will be competing for Durban Surf Lifesaving.
Clarke, a psychometrist by profession, needs no introduction to De Morny, having been a team-mate of his for his entire beach sprinting career.
Clarke, De Morny and Taariq Hassiem have been dubbed the 'terrific trio' when it comes to the flags discipline. And while De Morny has often had the edge in the sprints, don't be surprised to see Clarke upstaging his more celebrated mate in one of the two - if not both - disciplines.
"I've had great preparation for the Nationals. I am training six to seven times a week, with two of those sessions being on the track and the remaining split between the beach and Crossfit," says Clarke.
"As always, my biggest competition will come from Ryle and Taariq. They have been my day one team-mates since I started Lifesaving. We have pushed each other to new heights and are always each other's greatest rivals, but at the same time, each other's greatest motivators."
Clarke, who placed at the Lifesaving Club World Champs in Noordwijk in 2016 and in Adelaide in 2018, is wary of the threat of Liam Calvert but acknowledges that often a new youngster arrives at Nationals that can cause problems.
The Covid-enforced cancellation of last year's event and the limited competitions because of Covid-19 has meant that there isn't necessarily a form gage for next month.
Clarke is confident but says just having the National Championships back is a victory for the sport.
"There is so much hidden talent waiting for opportunity and the bigger the profile of the National Champs and the lure of representing South Africa at the World Championship. The bigger the incentive to get more youngsters involved in Lifesaving, not just competitively but also from a community level perspective," says Clarke.
And it is the community aspect that has given Clarke a high that can't be beaten.
"The unexplainable moment you share with a person who you have just rescued. The look they give you of absolute gratitude and appreciation is something that will always resonate with me."
DHL Lifesaving National Championships Schedule:
2-4 October - Senior Surf
4-5 October - Juniors Surf
4-5 October - Nippers Pool
6-9 October - Nippers Surf
All images supplied by LSA