Matt rises to surf lifesaving challenge

WARRNAMBOOL surf lifesaver Matthew Hardiman has led Victoria to victory in the Southern States Challenge.

Matthew, 14, captained the 24-member state squad at the annual challenge, contested between Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania at Hobart.

Victoria won with 730 points, from South Australia, 694, and Tasmania, 590, after pool and beach competition on Saturday and Sunday.

Matthew was one of four under 15 boys representing Victoria. Squads had four boys and four girls at under 13, 14 and 15 level.

The pool events were an obstacle race, rope tow and mannequin carry— which asks swimmers to rescue a 60-kilogram mannequin from the bottom of the pool. 

The beach events included ironman, board paddle, board rescue, surf teams, beach flags, beach spints and aqua cameron.

Victorian coach Cameron Dixon said yesterday Matthew, a Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club member, did “an awesome job” as captain.

Dixon said the teenager won his board paddle against much bigger rivals from South Australia and Tasmania.

He also impressed in the 50-metre mannequin carry without fins, one of the toughest events on the program, placing second.

“A lot of these kids were put into races they are unfamiliar with in the pool, as well as the ocean events they are more comfortable with,” he said.

“Matt, being primarily a board paddler, really showed his versatility in the pool.

“To come out the next day on the beach and smash everyone on the board was awesome. He’s just a great team member.

“The under 15 team he had wasn’t super strong but he certainly stood tall amongst them and showed what they should do.”

Dixon said the Victorian squad did well to turn the tables on South Australia, which won the challenge in 2013.

“It was a real team effort,” he said.

‘‘All the individual places mean something personally to the kids but to the coach, it’s about getting the points.

“You put confidence in the kids to do well and they all did across the board.”

Matthew said he was proud to captain Victoria to victory. 

He began surf life saving in the Nippers program and has developed a passion for the sport.

“The thing I love about surf life saving is I mainly do beach events and with the waves it’s a challenge, it’s never the same each day,” he said.

afawkes@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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