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Surf squad goes west for Aussies showdown

Joe Collins, Claudia Bailey, Will Savage and Bree McCowatt. Picture: Cavan Flynn

by Grace Knight 

Five Bond University athletes are bound for Perth to compete in the 2023 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.

Bree McCowatt, Claudia Bailey, Joe Collins, Archie Vernon and Will Savage have each been training hard in preparation for ‘the Aussies’ where they will showcase a range of disciplines including swimming, running, paddling and rescue. 

Each will be competing in open categories from March 29 to April 2.

Nineteen-year-old New Zealander and Bond Exercise and Sports Science student Bree McCowatt is one of the up-and-comers looking to make her mark in Australian waters. 

McCowatt moved across the ditch in 2022 when she decided to give her surf lifesaving a serious crack. 

“I always believed that the Gold Coast was going to be the best place for me in terms of furthering my surf lifesaving,” she said. 

“When I was offered a scholarship at Bond, that really finalised my decision in coming over and I’m very glad that I did.” 

Following a confidence-boosting performance in the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships earlier this month, McCowatt is looking forward to bringing her best game to the Aussies. 

“I’m feeling really good heading into the event,” she said. 

“The New Zealand titles were a bit of a tough one after I performed super-well early, however I was overtaken as my opponents caught larger waves from out the back which carried them into shore and allowed them to catch up to me.” 

Fortunately, Perth is known for its notoriously flat surf, which in surf lifesaving allows athletes to demonstrate their physical abilities more precisely. In bigger surf, the playing field becomes more level and skill alone may not be enough to win a race.  

Another Bondy joining McCowatt in Perth will be Joe Collins, also from New Zealand. 

He is fresh off his first national Ironman title at the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships and will carry extra confidence into the Australian event.

“I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve had a great season so far, probably my best year yet,” Collins said. 

“It would be pretty awesome if I could top it off with a win in the Aussie Ironman, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can put down and see if I can carry my momentum from the previous couple of competitions.”

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