WITH summer around the corner and activity on Nelson Mandela Bay beaches picking up, surf lifesavers in the Bay are facing a busy season. But beachgoers can rest assured that Nelson Mandela Bay boasts an award-winning lifesaver and an award-winning team on its beaches.
This follows Kings Beach Lifesaving Club's Tess Kotze's achievement of winning the Bert Ashford surf instructor of the year award and the Bluewater Bay Surf Lifesaving Club which won the Bravo Verheyhen trophy for the best drowning prevention initiative in the country.
Kotze became involved in lifesaving after she took her children to join the nippers – a group that trains young lifesavers.
"I got involved in the lifesavers because I took my children to join the nippers. With the lifesavers, one doesn't just sit on the sidelines, you get involved in what they are doing. I have been with the club for about five or six years now."
To keep fit as a lifesaver, Kotze does paddling, kick-boxing and cycling.
She said the focus area of a lifesaver was centred around prevention of drowning and keeping the public safe.
"The one thing that we strive for as lifesavers is prevention. We want to keep people safe and not be in a situation where you need to save them.
"Sure, there will be one or two people who you will need to get out of the water, but we focus on preventing them from getting into a situation where they need saving. We are there to ensure that everyone has a good time at the beach.
"To become a lifeguard, you must be able to swim. You are required to take part in a written exam and practical which involves a 200m run, 400m swim and another run, 200m – all of which you must do within 10 minutes. You are also taught about first aid and doing CPR. You are re-tested every year to make sure that you still know what you're doing," she said.
"Lifesaving is a fun sport that invites kids – boys and girls – of all ages to participate in various beach and sea activities in a home away from home club environment. Our motto at [King's Beach Lifesaving Club] is "Fun in the Sun". [The aim is] to teach the kids water safety and how to respect the sea," she added.