As the world's best lifesavers converge on Durban for the 2019 International Surf Rescue Challenge that gets under way this weekend, the teenagers selected for the South African Youth team are itching to prove their worth and perform alongside their idols.
"This is probably one of the strongest Youth teams we have ever had," said team manager Lauren Billson. "They have what it takes to mix it with the best of the athletes from Australia and New Zealand."
"In the past we have been content to settle for the bronze medal, but this year we can really challenge for the top two positions," said team manager Josh Kreft
The South African junior men and women can look forward to massive support and lifesaving clubs from across the country are sending supporters to line the beaches and piers for the event.
The team includes Umhlanga Rocks SLC rising star Connor Botha, who brings a wealth of experience at international level to the squad, and is looking to take full advantage of his last year as a junior.
"I just want to go out and have fun, give it my all and test myself against the best in the world," said Botha, who will spend the summer competing in Australia after completing his matric.
"I know the top Aussie and Kiwi guys because I have raced against them before, so some rivals might go down because I have beaten them before so they will be keen to beat me at home!" Botha is prioritising the Iron Man as the event he would like to win the most.
The eight junior men and eight junior women represent a few specialists in a number of key lifesaving disciplines from clubs around the country. But as Kreft stresses, the key is picking a team that can cover all the bases properly.
"You need to look at the competition as a whole and see what events are there in that competition and which group of individuals will get you the most points," says Kreft. "The challenge comes when you have a red hot specialist in a particular discipline. You have to make sure that the rest of the team can cover all the other bases."