04 Aug
Sebastian Garreau

Local teen, Sebastian Garreau, made his debut for South Africa at a recent international lifesaving competition

story Megan Rich main picture Slade Mansfield

It was a dream come true for 18-year-old Sebastian Garreau, from uMhlanga Rocks Surf Lifesaving Club, to make his green and gold debut at the recent Sanyo Bussan International Lifesaving Cup in Japan recently. Not only was Sebastian the youngest male selected for the international competition and the only Durban youngster in the men’s team, at just over 1,9m he was also definitely the tallest, earning him the nickname #tallmaninjapan.

Sebastian has been a member of the uMhlanga Rocks Surf Lifesaving Club (ROX) since he was nine-years-old, and gives back to the community by spending weekends and holidays volunteering as a lifesaver for the club. He assists the municipal lifeguards to monitor the bathing beaches, watch bathers and prevent potential drownings.

It is no surprise that this Clifton College matric learner comes from an ocean loving-family. His late great-grandfather, Norman Sargent, was one of the earliest members and volunteer lifeguards when the uMhlanga Lifesaving Club was founded. His dad, Steve, is a qualified lifeguard and a past Nippers coach, while Seb’s siblings, Dom, Genieve and Mitch, also thoroughly enjoy the sport. “Seb’s life is the ocean – he finds solace and happiness in all it has to offer,” says Sebastian’s proud mom, Marilyn, who is always in the background offering support with Super C’s, water and sunblock.

Being selected to represent South Africa in Japan was a huge surprise for Sebastian as he had no expectations of making the team – but was however very excited and completely embraced the one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Sebastian took the opportunity to learn from both his own teammates and members of the other teams. “My teammates were great and inspired me through the competition giving me tips on how to approach each race as well as what to do eat when competing.” In the end, he achieved well in the competition, being placed third in two of the events.

Sebastian’s proudest moment from the international competition was the beach relay, which involved a sprint across the beach: “All four of us in the men’s team dug deep – sprinting hard and concentrating on not dropping the baton. We were proud of our third place in a very competitive race.”

Sebastian’s training schedule is intense, training two sessions a day, five days a week. He explains how in one week he does, “three swimming trainings, three board sessions, three ski sessions and an ironman on a Sunday.” As a resident of the Mount Edgecombe Estate, Sebastian trains on Pani Dam on both his mali board and his surf ski when sea conditions aren’t at their best.

He admits that balancing school and training can be difficult: “This is the most challenging part and I try to stay up to date with my academics. Time management is key and is something I’m still learning.” And his immediate plans? He hopes to work hard and complete a good matric, then take a gap year at Quest in the Eastern Cape. He has also set his sights on competing in the Adelaide World Lifesaving Championships in November/December 2018.

“Lifesaving is an amazing sport that everyone can participate in. Apart from helping save lives it also gives you the opportunity to enjoy the beach and sea. On a personal level, lifesaving has taught me many life lessons and skills that I use on a day-to-day basis. It’s an honour to represent your country and I’m looking forward to making the team again next year for Australia,” says Sebastian. Watch this space! *

Factsheet: Umhlanga Rocks Lifesaving Club


Kids from as young as six are taught the basic water safety and awareness skills to ensure they become water safe.


The fun outdoor activity teaches valuable life skills, water safety knowledge and exposes kids, age eight to fourteen, to different lifesaving disciplines. They can compete in competitions and progress to becoming Junior Lifesavers. Strong swimming skills are an advantage but everyone is encouraged get involved.


Good swimmers over the age of fourteen can qualify for the training and Junior Lifeguard Award (JLA) examination programme, after which you can become a qualified junior lifeguard. Training includes rescue techniques, CPR and understanding rips and currents.

Qualified Junior Lifeguard duties

Patrolling the swimming and surrounding areas, attend/rescue bathers in distress or in need of assistance, attend to first aid injuries, assisting lost children find their parents.

Spot the ROX lifesavers

Look out for the red and yellow uniform. A designated bathing area set-up, marked with red and yellow flags, indicates lifeguards on duty.

Other Durban clubs

Lifesaving Clubs in Durban are not regionalised and residents can join any club. Other clubs Durban clubs include Marine, Durban Surf, Pirates, Sunkist, Thekweni.

Facebook – uMhlanga Rocks Surf Lifesaving Club |  roxnippers@gmail.com

uMhlanga Rocks Surf Lifesaving Club is going to be hosting open days on the 20 and 27 August down at uMhlanga Main beach in front of the Lifesaving Club, starting at around 9am for anyone interested lifesaving or becoming a nipper.

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