POPPIT SANDS Surf Life Saving stars Bethan Phillips and Dafydd Nicholls were recently presented with their Welsh caps after a very successful season of competition. Writes Julie John.
The two of them who boast many years of experience representing their West Wales club travelled along with their families to the Towers Hotel in Swansea for the Surf Life Saving Wales Annual Presentation evening where they were officially presented with their caps.
Bethan, who received a senior cap and Dafydd who was awarded a youth cap, have been members of the Poppit Club from an early age, competing in local club and regional championships as well as being successful members of Cardigan Swimming Club from the age of 6.
Their first Surf Life Saving National Championship was at Aberavon when they competed in the Welsh SLSA Nipper Championships in 2008, in both ocean and beach events, and both collected medals at the competition.
They carried on competing at Nipper level until the transition to the junior level where they have pitted themselves annually at the Welsh SLSA Junior Championships,mostly hosted in Aberavon and Porthcawl against teams such as Rhoose, Penybont, Mumbles and Restbay – these being well established clubs with large numbers of members.
Bethan’s highlight in her junior career came in 2012 where she was crowned Welsh Ski Champion, a very proud moment for her and her family who were there cheering her on whilst Dafydd’s junior highlight came in 2015 at Aberavon when he was crowned the Welsh Champion in the Surf Swim race and he went on to successfully defend his title the following year in the U19 Surf Swim race at Porthcawl, again with the support of family and fellow club members. In 2016 they were part of the Poppit Sands relay team and took gold there.
In 2013, having gained enough valuable experience a small team from Poppit Sands travelled to Devon to compete in the SLS GB Junior Surf Lifesaving Championships almost 20 years since Poppit had competed at this event and a number of members were successful.
2015 saw them compete at the Welsh Rankings at Aberavaon for the first time with other club members in an attempt to gain a place in the Welsh Youth Team, Dafydd successfully earned his first cap for his country, along with fellow member Lowri Davies. There was further success the following year for Dafydd when he won his second cap. At Porthcawl in the Welsh Junior Championships in 2016, Dafydd took the title of Triple Welsh Champion in swim, relay, and board rescue.
This year’s Welsh Rankings took place over three days involving rigorous trials both on land and sea and at the end of these Bethan was successful in winning her first cap for her country at senior level. Training for the Welsh Team involved regular midweek sessions at Porthcawl beach which were very arduous.
August 2016 at Portreath, Cornwall the two of them competed in the Celtic Challenge against England. For Dafydd it was a very proud moment when he won the flags competition and he told Sportsline that at the time he was totally overwhelmed and it will be one of his greatest highlights.
For Bethan, collecting her senior cap has been one of her proudest moments in her career and said it had been a very humbling experience at the presentation when she was handed her cap. Bethan is following an impressive line up of sporting family members as her cousin Gareth Davies is the current Scarlets and Wales scrum half and has represented Wales 21 times and her other cousin Gethin Davies has won a cap for his country competing in Fly Fishing.
Both are qualified lifeguards for the RNLI in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion and to their credit Dafydd and Bethan have served a year each as Junior Club Captains for Poppit Sands SLSC ensuring the teams spirit continues to thrive and offering encouragement to their fellow members to take part. They both admit that they thoroughly enjoyed this role.
However, they appreciate the support and assistance that they received in their tender years and said that they are both very grateful to their coaches at Poppit Sands, whose ongoing commitment and dedication has helped them reach their goals and achieve their success.
Currently Dafydd is a year 13 student at Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi, whilst Bethan who is also a former pupil of the school is currently taken a gap year to travel before embarking out on University life.
Sportsline wishes the two of them every success in whatever future paths they walk along and in whatever opportunities that come to meet them in years to come.