In October 2022 year I attended the World Lifesaving Championships 2022 conducted by the International Lifesaving Federation at Riccione in Italy. The World Lifesaving Championships is conducted every two year and covers rescue and sports events in both swimming pool and ocean environments. A wide range of countries participate from Australia to Zimbabwe. This was the fourth Worlds I have officiated at having applied to be a Technical Official and being accepted prior to the postponement due to COVID-19. Prior to this trip, I have performed safety and judge in boat roles with Australian lifesavers, Fédération Française de Sauvetage et de Secourisme, Reddingsbrigade Nederland and the Powercraft Wales Team.
Visiting Powercraft Wales
Wales Powercraft adopted me when in France 2014. So prior to going to Italy, I spent seven days staying with Chris and Shan Parry of the Wales Powercraft Team in Bridgend who were great hosts. During the week I caught up with people I had worked with before, was shown around the lifeguard clubs and participated in IRB proficiencies and training. (Oh and Ukulele night but that’s another story). Powercraft Wales use the same type of IRB and methods we use and their teams have won medals in World Championship IRB events. Their IRB motors have a return spring to reduce the engine revs when you let go of the throttle. Even though the season had ended they keep training as long as they weather holds out and there were nippers doing board training on the beach. After Wales I went into England while the funeral for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was held then Riccione.
I arrived in Riccione on 3 October 2022 and was straight into officials’ briefings in the afternoon. Water safety and course set ups for the championships was provided by professional lifeguards from Italy. Many from Roma. The Italians do not have IRBS as we know them, but that did not stop them providing an excellent service throughout the championships. There were three Judge in Boats, Peter Cullen (South Africa), Hamaji Kentaro (Ken – Japan) and myself. Each morning, we arrived at the beach following our officials briefing and an Italian Lifeguard picked us up from the beach on a Jet ski and took us to two Rigid Inflatable Boats that were assigned for judging in boat. We were then driven to where ever we needed to be to judge the races and picked up by jet ski whenever we needed to go back to shore. The Jet skis provided water safety. The SEMC manager (Giuseppe Andreana) spent some time on JIB to see how things were going. I was happy to tell him I thought his team were doing well. The RIB drivers took anticipated our needs and the lifeguards on the jet skis shadowed every race and always followed the last competitor in. There was a very large contingent of internationals officials at the beach and 10 from Australia.
Australia won the overall trophy in the National Open Teams (Ocean and Pool) followed by New Zealand and France. Australia also won the National Youth Teams competition followed by New Zealand and Italy. However, other countries performed well in specific events the hosts, Italy won the Youth Teams in the Pool. For more details and video see the link https://www.federnuoto.it/riccione-2022.html. Attending the World Lifesaving Championships, I have leant that lifesaving is a world-wide phenomenon and there are things we can learn from overseas. The next World Championships will be on the Goldcoast in QLD in August 2024. Events that were cancelled because of COVID-19 such as Surf Boats and IRB racing should be back on the agenda and there will no doubt be some surf. It should be an exciting championship. They will no doubt be looking for qualified officials and experienced IRB and Jet ski Drivers for water safety. Wales Powercraft are already saving their pennies so they can be there. How about you?
Gazi to those who sent me photos
Brett Wakefield – Lifesaving Development Officer