Captains Announced for Battle of the Tasman as Countdown BeginsTuesday, 22 August 2023
The countdown has begun for the inaugural Battle of the Tasman, with teams heading across the ditch to compete.
Representing New Zealand are two teams of 12: the Junior Black Fins and the New Zealand Pathway team. They’ll be taking on Australia’s top athletes in both ocean and pool events.
Leading the Junior Black Fins are Oska Smith and Talitha McEwan. Oska is the current Junior World Champion for Beach Sprints, and Talitha recently had success at the Australian Pool Rescue Championships, where she broke the record for the 200m Obstacles Race.
Zac Franich, Junior Black Fins Head Coach, said, “We’re very fortunate to have these returning Junior Black Fins as our captains. Both bring balance and composure to the group and will lead by example.”
Sam Roy, who is currently based on the Gold Coast in Australia, will be leading the New Zealand Pathway team.
Sam said, “It’s such an honour to represent New Zealand, and it’s awesome to be named captain of the team. I’m excited to be able to share what I’ve learned over the years to the younger athletes in the team.”
Emulating the format of the Lifesaving World Championships, the Battle of the Tasman will adopt a unique points-based system. Over the course of four days, there’ll be a total of 37 events. Only two athletes from each team will be able to compete in any single event, with the team collecting the most points taking the win.
The event will take place on the Gold Coast in Queensland with the ocean events taking place at Kurrawa Beach and the pool races being held at the Southport Aquatic Centre – the same venues as next year’s Lifesaving World Championships.
Zac said the Junior Black Fins are in great form and ready to hit the ground running against a tough Australian contingent.
“Our pool athletes are in blistering form, with a number setting New Zealand records and securing podium finishes at the recent Australian Pool Rescue Championships. Our ocean athletes are also returning impressive training results, setting the stage for a great event!”
Sam agreed, saying the New Zealand Pathway athletes have recorded some impressive results over the past few years.
“We’re all really excited to compete. There’s nothing like racing internationally. It can be a daunting and stressful experience, but as captain, I’m going to make sure everyone is in a positive mindset. It’s just about making sure our team knows we’re proud of them before, during, and after the race.”
This will be the first ever Battle of the Tasman. Sam says an event like this is long overdue.
“There is so much informal rivalry between New Zealand and Australia, and we’ve always talked about how it would be good to have a Trans-Tasman match. I know everyone is excited to be a part of it and see the next generation of athletes come through.”
The Battle of the Tasman will take place from the 24-27 August.
SLSNZ High Performance Sport Manager
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