Matt Bevilacqua, Lana Rogers and Jordan Mercer are all ones to watch in the open championships at the Aussies.
Matt Bevilacqua, Lana Rogers and Jordan Mercer are all ones to watch in the open championships at the Aussies.

TOP 14: Lifesavers to watch in Aussies open championships

Lifesaving's best athletes are set for some intense battles on Coast shores as the Aussies' open championships get under way.

The open championships hits the sand and surf of Mooloolaba, Maroochydore and Alexandra Headland from Tuesday to Saturday.

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Athletes will compete in the U17, U19 and open level divisions.

Surf Life Saving Queensland sport manager Stuart Hogben said there would be plenty of action to enjoy.

"It's one of those ones where you're looking at some of the best lifesavers around the country," he said.

"When you look at the work that goes into being at this level and the amount of training they do, crowds will see some wonderful athletes down here on show.

"And, looking at the conditions there will be some great racing.

He said there would be current and ex Olympians running around in swim, surf and ski races.

"It's not just lifesavers but across the board some top class athletes."

Here are some of the top lifesavers to watch in the open championships this week:

Ali Day is competing in the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships. Picture: Brad Fleet
Ali Day is competing in the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships. Picture: Brad Fleet

Ali Day (Surfers Paradise)

Ali Day is in red-hot form having taken out the Nutri-Grain ironman series with an undefeated roll through all six rounds of the competition.

Lana Rogers with coach Sharlene Kelly
Lana Rogers with coach Sharlene Kelly

Lana Rogers (Alexandra Headland)

The Coast lifesaver will have a "big target" on her back says Hogben, having been crowned champion of the Nutri-Grain ironwoman series for the past two years.

She was named Surf Sports Athlete of the Year during the annual Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence celebrations last year.

She achieved the gong after a breakout 2019/20 season in which she claimed her maiden Coolangatta Gold title and was crowned Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series champion.

 

Lizzie Welborn (Newport)

She has been inside the top three in the Nutri-Grain ironwoman series for the past two years and has represented Australia in the International Surf Rescue Challenge at South Africa.

She is also a three-time consecutive winner of the youth ironwoman race at the Australian championships.

Winner of state ironwoman Georgia Miller. Pic Mike Batterham
Winner of state ironwoman Georgia Miller. Pic Mike Batterham

Georgia Miller (Northcliffe)

Finished second in the 2020-21 Nutri-Grain ironwoman series behind Lana Rogers.

She won the 2018-19 series and is also the defending champion at Aussies in the ironwoman.

She also took out the ironwoman at the states.

Danielle McKenzie (Northcliffe)

McKenzie, who came fourth in the Nutri-Grain series, has been competing really well, says Hogben.

"With the swim leg in the middle of the iron she will be one to watch there and even in the individual ski events," he said.

"She won the ski race and was top five in the iron at states."

 

Jordan Mercer.
Jordan Mercer.

Jordan Mercer (Noosa Heads)

"While she's not racing the iron this weekend she is actually going to be jumping on the single ski," Hogben said.

"So, she'll be one to watch because while she hasn't been doing a lot of iron training she has been doing a lot of work on the ski.

"She was always a really good ski paddler so one to keep an eye on there."

Corey Fletcher (Burleigh)

"He's one to watch in the board, he paddled really well at states," Hogben said.

Fletcher made the final at states and came third in the board during the Summer of Surf series this year.

He was also part of the team that took out the open male board relay at the 2019 Aussies.

Ky Kinsela (Burleigh Heads)

Took out the coveted male ironman title at the state championships and also placed third in the surf race.

"He'll definitely be looking to continue that," Hogben said.

"He had some reasonable form during the Nutri-Grain series and came out at states and won which was a big standpoint from there knowing that it was a quality field."

 

Maroochydore’s Adam Palmer. Picture: John McCutcheon
Maroochydore’s Adam Palmer. Picture: John McCutcheon

Adam Palmer (Maroochydore)

Palmer was strong at the state championships by taking out the open surf board while placing in the U19 surf board.

He placed fourth in the U19 iron race too.

Tayla Halliday and Emma Woods (Alexandra Headland)

Hogben expected the duo to fare well in their home Aussies and they could be dark horses in some events.

"They'll be right up there in the open and also really strong in U19s," he said.

They were first and second in the U19 ironwoman at states.

Together they also took out the U19 double ski and U19 board rescue and joined Lucinda Kelly to win the open Taplin relay.

Woods also won the U19 surf race at states.

 

Surf sports athlete Matt Bevilacqua. Picture: Jerad Williams
Surf sports athlete Matt Bevilacqua. Picture: Jerad Williams

Matt Bevilacqua (Northcliffe)

While he placed fourth in the Nutri Grain series this year, Bevilacqua took out the ironman title in 2017-18 and was runner up in 2019-20.

He enjoyed a solid states campaign, placing third in the ironman and second in the board.

Matt Poole (Northcliffe)

A veteran of the sport at 32, Poole featured in the Nutri-Grain series this year and is a former champion of the event.

He's a former Molokai 2 Oahu World Paddleboard champion and took out the Australian U19 ironman in 2007.

Cory Taylor (Northcliffe)

Like many of the athletes to watch, Taylor featured in the 2020-21 Nutri-Grain series, finishing fifth.

He's enjoyed plenty of success in New Zealand, having been crowned ironman champion four times among other results.