Feature by Ian Hanson, Chief Australian Correspondent
WEST BURLEIGH, Australia, July 20. KY Hurst and Melissa Gorman will continue a proud Australian Surf Life Saving tradition when they contest next year's London Olympics.
Aussie Surf Lifesavers have dominated Olympic swimming, water polo, kayak, rowing and track and field teams since the Paris Olympics in 1900.
And for two-time Olympians Hurst and Gorman from the Kurrawa SLSC on the Gold Coast, who earned their selection with top ten finishes in the 10km open water event at this week's FINA World Championships in Shanghai, it is special indeed.
Hurst was fifth in today's 10km men's race and Gorman fourth in yesterday's women's race, ensuring their tickets to London next year – and the title dual Olympians.
The pair will now continue the tradition which saw Australia's first Olympic swimming gold medals won by Mona Vale lifesaver, Freddie Lane in the 200m freestyle and the 200m freestyle with obstacles, events swum in the River Seine at the second Games in Paris.
Names like gold medal winning 1500m swimmer Andrew "Boy" Charlton, Bruce Bourke, Warren Boyd, Eric Johnston, Jack King, Hermie Doerner and Tom Boast were just some of the early lifesavers who were Olympians in the first half of the century.
Swimmers Bourke and Boyd joined water polo players Johnston, King and Doerner the last time the Olympics were held in London in 1948 and it was Bourke's son Glenn, who was a member of the Australian yachting team in Barcelona in 1992.
The Olympic connection has continued with every Olympic team sprinkled with lifesavers, Gary Winram, Jon Donohoe, Phil Coles, Dennis Green, Terry Buck, Graham White, Mark Anderson, Graeme Windeatt, Neil and Greg Rogers, Robbie Nay, Mark Tonelli, Paul Moorfoot, Max Metzker, Mark Kerry, Graeme Brewer, Ron McKeon, Duncan Armstrong, Steve Holland, Jon Sieben, Grant Kenny, Barry Kelly and Grant Hackett just some of the lifesavers who have worn the Olympic blazer.
The most notable of recent achievers, being kayak star and Hurst's former Tugun Taplin Relay winning team mate Kenny Wallace, who won the kayak gold in the K1500 in Beijing.
The pressure is now on for Wallace to join his good friend Hurst in the team for London – and for the moment Wallace is certainly on the track, with his own World Championships emerging.
Hurst, at 30, is already regarded as one of the world's premier watermen having won four Australian Ironman championships and a record seven Australian open surf race crowns on his home beach at Kurrawa at this year's Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.
The king of the surf qualified for his first team in Beijing and finished 11th before coming back to Ironman racing in the summer of 2009 and making an immediate impact.
But with Shanghai approaching and the lure of a second Olympics, Hurst returned to the pool and some serious training under the astute coaching of fellow lifesaver, popular North Burleigh lifesaver, Scotsman Col Braund at Bond University.
Braund, himself a former swimmer and water polo player in Britain and a popular figure in Gold Coast lifesaving, has a link to the Olympics, with his mother representing Great Britain at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
"Ky and I have always had a healthy relationship and when it came to coach-swimmer we just hit it off and he has done the work, I think we have been smart about his preparation and there is no doubt in my mind that he can swim very well in Shanghai," Braund said in an interview before he left for China.
"He has committed himself and there is no doubt in my mind that the best is yet to come for Ky Hurst.
"The Olympics is certainly in my blood and for Ky to make it to London will be an amazing feat by an amazing Australian swimmer."
Braund, who will become an Australian citizen in the run up to London, was in Shanghai to celebrate the moment today and will return to the Gold Coast to continue coaching his surf-swim squad at Bond.
Gorman, under wily coach Ken Wood at Redcliffe, has only come into lifesaving later in her career but has made a great fist of combining her stillwater career with her open water and surf career.
While Hurst will head home to a break before settling into training ahead of a summer of Ironman racing, the 2009 World Champion over 5km, Gorman will now prepare for a tilt at the 1500m freestyle when the pool events kick off on Sunday.
There is every chance that Gorman may even contest next year's Aussies (March 26-April 1) with the event scheduled after next year's Olympic Swimming Trials in Adelaide.