Yass local Sam Longmore is looking to improve on her already impressive slalom water skiing career this year. Over the next month, Sam is scheduled to compete in an Australian Masters event at Bridgewater in Victoria and the Australian Skiing Nationals in Perth. Sam will look to win the masters event less than a year after making her competitive debut at the 2022 Malibu Water Ski National Championships in Mulwala.

“The sport is incredible and it’s changed me as a person, it’s made me feel high on life and like the person I was before the accident, it’s been just over nine years since my accident but I finally feel like I’ve found myself and skiing has made me realise that I’m still the same person which is amazing.”

Sam suffers from right-side hemiplegia, meaning she is paralysed from neck to toe on her right-hand side as a result of an accident she suffered in 2013. In her first-ever competition, Sam won a medal in the seated slalom and seated trick ski and smashed an Australian slalom record in the disabled division. Three days later Sam broke her own record by one further buoy.

Slalom water skiing involves the use of multiple buoys in the skiing course, which skiers must pass to complete the competition. Typically, a slalom ski course will be made up of 25 buoys, with two entrance gates at the beginning and end of the course. It’s important to note that, six out of the 25 buoys are designated as turn buoys, meaning that skiers have to pass by these buoys in a zigzag pattern. These turn buoys are placed 11.5 meters away from the course, so the skiers will have to exert extra effort to pass these turns. The remaining buoys serve to act as markers to ensure the towboat goes in a straight line during the competition.

Beginning at their chosen speed and rope length competitors must pass through the course before coming back around and repeating it again at a faster speed each time. The previous Australian seated slalom record was four buoys at 31km/h on an 18-metre rope and Sam achieved four buoys at 43km/h on a 13-metre rope.

After bursting onto the scene last year, not only breaking the record once, but twice, Sam is keen to get back on the water and chase some more records.

“I travel down to Bridgewater every three weeks to train with my trainer, it’s about a 14-hour round trip and over the past few weeks the training has gotten more intense as I prepare for the Masters,” Sam said.“The most important thing about competing again for me is being involved again with a sport that I love, it’s very inclusive and very freeing.“

Jude Bannister & Sam Longmore

“The competitive experience I gained last year helped me understand the mindset I have to be in, skiing is very much a mindset sport so knowing that I can achieve these things and the amount of work I need to put in to be good at it is massive for me.“

“We’ve been trying to do some fundraising to help us get over to America at the end of the year, I find it really hard to ask in that regard but it’s necessary.“

“It’s hard having to do so much training and travelling so far whilst also trying to run a business, it’s all worth it when you’re out on the water though,” Sam continued.

After she is finished the Australian Masters and the Australian Nationals on Easter long weekend, Sam will next compete at the World Championships in September in Sacramento. Sam is the embodiment of grit and determination and the Yass Valley Times would like to wish her all the best in her upcoming competitions.

Tully Potts