By Leila Stein
Avid sportsman, Jamie Jacobson, cleaned up during the 2021 South African Lifesaving Championships with two first place titles.
Representing the Fish Hoek lifesaving club, Jacobson competed in a mix of individual and team events in Gqeberha between 2-3 October. This is the first time the event was held after being postponed in 2020 due the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The competition was tough with many great competitors from around the country,” says Jamie.
The massive event is an annual tournament for the lifesaving clubs across the country. Over 1700 competitors from 40 national clubs compete in more than 500 events.
Over those two days, Jacobson took 4th place in the single ski race, 8th in the iron man, 3rd in the Tube Rescue, 1st in the double ski alongside teammate Mark Keeling and 1st in the single ski relay with teammate Mark Keeling and Alex Topliss.
“I am proud of my results and grateful to be part of a sport that encourages community-mindedness, togetherness and embodies civic duties,” says Jamie.
Participants from across the country were competing for their clubs while also fighting for a spot in the international team. In addition, over the South African Champs week, they were also fighting particularly difficult weather.
“During the competition, we encountered offshore gale-force winds making the competition all the more difficult. Fish Hoek is well known for producing world-class paddlers so I was honoured to have been chosen to compete for my club,” he said.
South Africa’s lifesaving clubs are hailed for their work on our busy beaches, especially during the intense summer season. However, being able to do this work requires dedicated training and support.
“[The events] are important as they give everyone something to work towards. Everyone always trains hard and works toward our SA Champs and even some of the smaller competitions around the country,” explains Jamie.
He began his journey in lifesaving as a Nipper, the children’s lifesaving group, in 2004. He qualified as a full lifeguard in 2010 and has been competing ever since.
“What I love about lifesaving is the community. It’s not just a sport, it’s volunteer service, it’s a community. You form bonds within the club, across clubs and provinces,” he says.
For Jacobson, lifesaving is also more than a community for himself and a sport to participate in. He considers it a resource for South Africans, those participating in it and those benefiting from the work.
“Lifesaving is important because it teaches responsibility, especially in children. It gives them a sense of purpose,” he says. “It also teaches you a lot about the environment and to care for it and respect it because you tend to notice things like plastic floating in the ocean a lot more and you tend to be more proactive.”
Jacobson matriculated from Herzlia in 2014. He studied Robotics and Mechatronics at the University of Cape Town. He currently works as an embedded junior software engineer when he’s not on the beach.
• Published in the PDF edition of the November 2021 issue – Click here to get it.
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