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Keepa, Dawson on fire

Gisborne's Jack Keepa and Chris Dawson had great success at the surf lifesaving pool rescue championships.

They racked up a combined seven national titles in the champs, held in Hamilton this month.

Keepa, who is still at high school, has been in top form, having also achieved lofty heights in short-course swimming.

Since the pool rescue champs he has set Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay age-group records in the 100-metre and 200m individual medley events and 50m breaststroke.

At the national secondary schools swimming championships in Hamilton this week, Keepa again set a regional record in the 100m individual medley. He beat his previous time by two-thousandths of a second, in an unofficial time of 58.21 seconds.

At the pool rescue champs, Keepa (from the Riversun Wainui club) won gold in the under-17 male 50-metre swim with fins, the 100m manikin carry with fins, and the 100m manikin tow with fins.

Keepa said Covid-19 postponements had meant a congested season, which made things challenging.

“It's been back-to-back national comps; it's long days at the pool,” he said.

“I was pretty tired and had to refocus for this week.”

Keepa trains up to a dozen times a week, with seven or eight pool sessions, three gym sessions and one surf lifesaving session.

He said it was a good balance for him; he got all his fitness from swimming and could focus more on the technical side of things in his surf lifesaving training.

His ambition is to be a surf lifesaving ironman professional.

He said he might have to move to the Gold Coast to realise his dream.

This year he had hoped to be in Italy as part of the Black Fins for the Lifesaving World Championships 2020, but the event was cancelled.

“I'd love to represent New Zealand in the Black Fins. I still have a couple of years in the youth category.”

He says he wouldn't be where he is without the strong support structure he has around him — “my coach Matt Martin, who's spent a lot of time with me (training); Dion Williams, my surf lifesaving coach at Wainui; and Tuterangi Nepe-Apatu, who's been helping me at the gym.”

Dawson would also have been in Italy with the Black Fins if not for Covid.

He now lives in Auckland, studying for a Bachelor of Construction degree through Massey University, but has been spending time back in Gisborne because his courses are all online this year.

He's represented Midway Surf Club since he was 10 years old.

He said it had been hard to train with the ongoing interruptions to his schedule because of Covid-19.

Dawson won the 100m rescue medley, the 200m super lifesaver, the 100m manikin tow with fins and the 50m manikin carry.

He said that while he didn't fluke his results, it was a big surprise to come away with four gold medals because he hadn't been training as much as he wanted.

“I went to Germany (to compete), when I was supposed to be at my physical peak, and there were two races last weekend where I went faster than when I was there.”

He laughed and said, “I was just super-rested.”

Jack Keepa has won three gold medals in his age grade at the surf lifesaving pool rescue champs and has broken several regional age-grade short-course swimming records this month. Pictures by Liam Clayton
RESCUE-BASED: Chris Dawson, left, swims with the dummy, which weighs up to 60 kilograms when filled with water. It's used for several of the surf lifesaving pool rescue championship events. The competition is meant to simulate lifesaving on the beaches.
Chris Dawson with the dummy, which weighs up to 60kg when it is filled with water. It is used for several of the surf lifesaving pool rescue championship events. The competition is meant to simulate lifesaving on the beaches.