Cape Town - Martin Binedell raced for glory at the recent 2017 World Aquatics Championships (FINA) in Hungary but in Durban on Friday he was at the forefront of South Africa's mens' stillwater lifesaving challenge in the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) Commonwealth Festival of Lifesaving.
Binedell, a Maritzburg College old boy, is the current South Africa and Africa 200m backstoke champion and has a long association with Lifesaving South Africa.
South Africa this weekend plays host to Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, Hong Kong and Mauritius and while the Australians, as a collective, were dominant on Friday's opening day of the two-day Pool lifesaving extravaganza, the best of South Africa's men and women more than held their own.
KwaZulu-Natal's super sister trio of Carmel, Lauren and Natalie Billson also impressed.
Carmel (Billson), winner of the General Tire/Lifesaving South Africa Female Athlete of the Year, showed her skills set are suited to still water of a pool as much as they are the surf.
Carmel and Lauren (Billson) fronted the best of Australia and England in the National Teams' elite competition, while Natalie (Billson) was a stand out in the Development Championship, which is aimed at the emerging talent yet to compete internationally.
The events, in both male and female categories, include:
*50m Manikin Carry
*100m Manikin Carry with Fins
*100m Manikin Tow with Fins
*200m Super lifesaver
*4 x 25m Manikin Carry Relay
*4 x 50m Medley Relay
This Championship is very different to those help in the surf and sand and the athletes' lifesaving skills face a thorough examination in the Aquatic Simulated Emergency Response Event, the Simulated Emergency Response Event (dry) resuscitation test, the 50m swim and non-contact tow, the 12.5 m line throw and the 100m Lifesaving Medley Swim (50m Lifesaving backstroke and 50m Lifesaving side stroke).
(Natalie) Billson aside there were also good performances from Dehanke van Rensburg and Biance Opperman in the Development Championship, while in the National Teams' elite Johan Lourens and Binedell were strong in their respective disciplines.
Binedell is also expected to represent South Africa at Lifesaving's Still Water Orange Cup in Holland.
Ryan Visagie, Product Communication Manager, Continental Tyre SA (General Tire) applauded those competing but emphasised the Commonwealth festival was as much about the education of drowning prevention as it was the competitive athletic component.
The General Tire sponsorship and investment in Lifesaving SA is about saving lives in relation to water dangers.
It's about helping with the education and promotion of being #watersmart and it's also about supporting the social and athletic aspects of Lifesaving SA.
The two-day Championship is the culmination of a week that also included the RLSS Commonwealth African Leaders Workshop, with attendees from Mauritius, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana, Botswana, Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi and hosts South Africa.
The workshop focused on training in program management and outcome and included the running of a Drowning Prevention program specific to each respective country.
Commonwealth 2017 SA National Team:
Johan Lourens, Ricardo Peach, Martin Binedell, Milan Erasmus and Brandon Isemonger
Carmel Billson, Lauren Billson, Amica de Jager, Kristin Bellingan, Chrislin Nieuwoudt
Commonwealth 2017 President's Team:
Dylan Bridger, Ockert van Schalkwyk, Calvin Coetzee, Mark Kleinhans, Kurt Rautenbach
Debra Dredge, Sulinke van den Berg, Bianca Opperman, Natalie Billson, Dehanke van Rensburg
*Every day more than four people lose their lives to drowning in South Africa. General Tire/Lifesaving SA rescues more than 3000 people annually. Help save more lives and SMS "Watersmart" to 49026 and donate R15 to Drowning Prevention Education