Saturday 23 November saw the curtain come down on another hugely exciting and successful Commonwealth Festival of Lifesaving (CFOL) held this time, at the John Charles Centre for Sport, in Leeds. 

This biennial competition brings together the most challenging elements of lifesaving sport, as well as the wider lifesaving community, in an event that both educates and entertains.

Seventeen Commonwealth nations had representation by athletes, officials and volunteers with thirteen nations fielding athletes from as far afield as Australia, Kenya and Mauritius, joining the home nations in the water.

Already so familiar with hosting international calibre pool events, the John Charles Centre for Sport couldn’t have been a more apt venue to host Team England, as they romped home to win the National Team Trophy – the Prince Michael of Kent Salver, for the very first time – pushed all the way by rivals and 2017 champs Australia, a second count secured them the win with only three points in it.

Just some of the highlights:

Thomas Trebilcock: Team England’s youngest athlete at 16-years-old taking home a silver medal in the 100m manikin carry

Athletes from Jersey and Northern Ireland competing for the first time in this new competition format

Marine Macartney: finishing first in the 100m manikin carry, securing not just a personal best time but new British and new Commonwealth records in the process, then being named Top Female of the competition

Andrew Morley: qualified for the finals of the 50m manikin carry with a new Commonwealth record, that remained unbroken after the finals.

Members of both the Development and National Teams coming away as Commonwealth Challenge Champions

But perhaps the most poignant moment was the huge applause and standing ovation that greeted Oba Waiyaki, as he was presented with the Mrs Henry Cup. Awarded to an individual from a developing nation with the most cumulative points from participating and engaging in the whole event, the Mrs Henry Cup captures the very best spirit of the Festival – not just competing but supporting and engaging with other athletes, teams and officials.

Team England Manager, Ben Stevens said:

“I have had THE BEST time managing Team England for this year’s Commonwealth Festival of Lifesaving. Every single team member contributed to such a successful Commonwealth for England - when you have a team that works well together, supports each other through the highs and the lows and delivers some of the best results Team England have ever seen it makes all the hard work and preparation worthwhile - I couldn’t be more proud! Talent wins races, but teamwork wins championships.”

Team England Coach, Rhianna Field added:

“I had the most amazing and incredible experience coaching Team England and couldn’t be happier with the result, with Team England taking the Overall Commonwealth Championship title for the first time ever! Credit to all the athletes and I’m so incredibly proud of them all. My first experience as coach is one to remember. History has been made!“ 

Huge congratulations to everyone who competed in the festival and profound thanks to all those people without whom the event simply wouldn’t have happened. 

Overall Winners:

The Prince Michael of Kent Salver
First Place National Team

The Langland Bay Men’s Cup
Top National Male
Steven Coomes of Australia

The Langland Bay Female’s Cup
Top National Female
Marine Macartney of England

The John Long Trophy
First Place Development Team

Mrs Henry Cup
Engaged Individual (Development)
Oba Waiyaki of Kenya 

Olympians dive into CFOL

An unexpected bonus for the Festival was found in members of Team GB’s diving squad, training in the diving area at the same time as the Festival. Olympic medallists Dan Goodfellow and Jack Laugher were welcomed by members of RLSS and RLSS UK. 

Pictured L-R:

Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) Operations Manager, Emma Harrison. RLSS UK Trustee, Bryan Finlay. Dan Goodfellow. Jack Laugher. RLSS UK Deputy President, Debbie Hunt. RLSS Deputy President, Clive Holland.