Grade 11 pupil Jenna Tarr represented SA at the 2022 Lifesaving World Championships held in Riccione, Italy, from September 18 to October 3.
Jenna, a pupil at Clarendon Girls High School, was the only East London athlete selected for the SA side, and was among the youngest in the group.
She has been involved with lifesaving since she was seven years old, and is a member of the East London Surf Lifesaving Club.
In preparation for the championships, she trained throughout the year with the lifesaving club and was involved in hockey and waterpolo at school, to help improve her strength.
To qualify for the side, Jenna was required to pass the examinations for the junior and senior lifeguard awards and complete beach duty hours.
At the DHL National Lifeguard Championships in March this year, Jenna achieved gold in the U17 beach sprint and flags categories.
Based on her achievement, she was chosen to be part of the high performance squad.
At the world championships, she obtained two silver awards for beach sprints and fifth place for flags.
She is most proud of achieving fifth place for the flags heat, which requires intense concentration and split decision making under extreme pressure.
Jenna’s coach and father, Gregg Tarr, said: “Penny [Jenna’s mother] and I are extremely proud of Jenna’s achievements as her achievement has been self-driven. She has always taken ownership of her training.”
Jenna said she hoped to remain in the SA side and to be selected for the 2025 world championships in Australia.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to represent my country one day,” said Jenna.
“I was very nervous before the event, but we were well-prepared by the team of South African coaches and managers, so by the time I got there I felt ready to compete.
“It was an amazing experience to have been part of an opening ceremony with 48 other countries represented.
“The competition was tough so I am very proud of my results.”