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The NZSS Swimming Championships have been contested on an annual basis since 2011.
Wellington College won the inaugural meet, which included one trophy awarded to the best overall boys, girls and co-ed school, and they won the next two boys meets after that when separate trophies were awarded to the leading boys, girls and co-ed schools.
Westlake Boys’ High School (twice), Auckland Grammar School and Tauranga Boys’ College won the Boys Trophy between 2014-2017.
This year’s championships were held at the Wellington Aquatic Centre over six sessions from last Thursday to Sunday, and it was once again Wellington College that emerged victorious on the final day, reclaiming the title with a completely new team from the one that last won in 2013.
The Wellington College team won 27 medals (eight gold, eight silver and 11 bronze), with 16 of 26 swimmers contributing points, across five age divisions, in a short-course (25m) format.
Team co-captain and year 13 swimmer Thomas Watkins won four golds on his own and led by example in and out of the water, but said it was a genuine team effort that was the key to victory.
“The meet started with a relay session on Thursday and at that point we were behind St Andrew’s. We had a look at it and we managed to get behind every race and come through in the end on Sunday.”
It was tight throughout. “I think we were ahead after most of the sessions from Friday to Sunday but it was close and there was always a team right behind us.”
Points in each race were awarded for the first 10 places, on a sliding scale of 26, 21, 17, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2 points per race.
“We had a lot of swimmers, myself included, who entered many events that they don’t normally compete in, and while they weren’t getting the medals they were still getting ninth and 10th and accumulating those smaller points which were also very important.”
Wellington College won with 830 points, ahead of St Andrew’s College on 766 and Pakuranga College in third on 571.
Individually, Atakura Julian was also strong in the same grade as Watkins. Eligh Ashby did extremely well to successfully clean-sweep the butterfly events in the 15 year age group for his three gold medals. Both Dillon Raimona-Pahetongia and Jonas Lilley were similarly prominent.
“Many of us are part of the same swim club [Capital] and we are all swimming together quite regularly, so it wasn’t too hard to get a good team bond going,” said Watkins.
Wellington College’s team was also swimming for the school’s swimming master Martin Vaughan who is retiring from this role this year, having been in charge of the school’s swimming programme since 1983.
“We all wanted to get up for Mr Vaughan who has done a great job for many years and we want to keep the swimming tradition going for the school that he has been a huge part of."
Whilst Wellington College won a three-peat between 2011-2013, this is was the first taste of success for every team member. “I have been to every NZSS swimming championships since I have been year 9, but this was my first win, so it was good for us year 13s to cap it off.”
Watkins said that there are a number of swimmers coming through so the future looks bright for the school.
For many of the elite swimmers, the NZSS meet also served as preparation for the New Zealand Short Course Swim Championships at the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre from 2-6 October.
Watkins trains with the Capital swim squad and swimming is his sole sporting focus. “I played hockey in year 9 and 10 but I let that go because swimming takes up my time. I am in the water about 20 hours a week so it gets a bit taxing.”
At the end of August he competed at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Fiji, competing against the best U19 swimmers from countries such as the USA, Australia, Japan, China and Canada.
"It was a great trip. I competed in the 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke and 400m IM. I hadn’t really swum in an outdoor pool before so I struggled a little bit on my first day in the 100m backstroke and I finished 12th overall. Then in the 200m back and 400m IM I made both A finals and I PB’ed in the morning and I finished 8th in the backstroke and seventh in the IM.”
Meanwhile, Auckland’s Diocesan School For Girls won the Girls Trophy at the NZSS meet, finishing on 1115 points and head of second placed Waikato Diocesan School on 1004.5 points, with a big gap to third-placed Wellington school Samuel Marsden Collegiate on 466.5 points.
St Andrew’s College won the Co-ed Trophy, ahead of Pakuranga and Kapiti Colleges.
Waikato Dio (girls), St Andrew’s College (boys) won the relay trophies
Some 64 boys, 62 girls and 10 co-ed teams took part.
Points Table Top 5 – Boys Trophy competition:
Historical results – male competition:
Wellington College medals won at the 2018 NZSS Championships:
Thomas Watkins (Co-Captain) – 4 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze medal (Senior age group)
gold 100m Individual Medley
gold 200m Individual Medley
gold 100m Backstroke
gold 200m Backstroke
silver 50m Backstroke
bronze 100m Freestyle
Eligh Ashby (Captain) – 3 gold medals (14 Year age group)
gold 50m Butterfly
gold 100m Butterfly
gold 200m Butterfly
Atakura Julian – 4 silver, 2 bronze medals (Senior age group)
silver 100m Butterfly
silver 200m Butterfly
silver 100m Freestyle
silver 200m Freestyle
bronze 50m Butterfly
bronze 400m Freestyle
Dillon Raimona-Pahetongia – 2 silver, 3 bronze medals (13 Year age group)
silver 50m Butterfly
silver 100m Freestyle
bronze 50m Backstroke
bronze 50m Freestyle
bronze 100m Butterfly
Jonas Lilley – 1 silver, 2 bronze medals (14 Year age group)
silver 400m Freestyle
bronze 200m Freestyle
bronze 200m Individual Medley
Senior relays – gold, silver & bronze medals
Thomas Watkins, Atakura Julian, Harrison Neal, Sean Register
gold – 4 x 100m Freestyle relay
silver – 4 x 50m Freestyle relay
bronze – 4 x 50m Medley relay
15 Yrs and Under relays – 2 bronze medals
Jonas Lilley, Lucan Speirs, Eligh Ashby, Shane Maskell
bronze – 4 x 100m Freestyle relay
bronze – 4 x 50m Freestyle relay
The Full College Team is listed below:
Thomas Watkins (Co Captain)
Harrison Neal (Co Captain)
Queran de Vos
Jedi Morland Janes
Caelum de Vos
Two Current New Zealand secondary school swimmers will be competing in the pool at the upcoming Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
Gina Galloway from Diocesan School for Girls, Auckland and Erika Fairweather from Kavanagh College in Dunedin are the two swimmers selected.
They are part of a four-strong team that also includes Zac Reid who is in his first year studying at Massey University and Michael Pickett who now attends school in Brisbane.
Galloway (aged 17) is the granddaughter of Ngaire Galloway, who at 93 years old, is New Zealand’s oldest living Olympian, and like Galloway senior competes in the backstroke.
Galloway junior won a bronze medal at the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games and will compete in the women’s 50m, 100m, 200m backstroke and 100m butterfly events.
“Growing up listening to her stories from her experiences and trips in swimming and the friends she's made through the sport all over the world has been really inspiring for me,” said Gina Galloway.
Otago’s Erika Fairweather (aged 14, Kavanagh College) will likely be one of the youngest athletes, if not the youngest athlete, competing at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games as her birthday (31/12/2003) is the cut-off date for eligible athletes.
Fairweather who now holds 12 national age-group records, including the girls 14 years 200m and 400m freestyle short course records set last weekend at the Otago Winter Championships.
“It feels pretty unreal and I am very honored that I get this opportunity to represent my country at this level,” Fairweather said.
Fairweather will compete in the women’s 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events.
Zac Reid (18 years, Massey University) who was a double gold medalist from the 2017 Youth Commonwealth Games will compete in the men’s 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events.
The Taranaki swimmer won his first New Zealand Open Championship last month by beating Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Lewis Clareburt in the men’s 400m freestyle final. Reid went on to also win the 200m, 800m and 1500m New Zealand titles.
“I made this a goal a year ago and now being selected is an amazing feeling as I have put a lot of work and dedication in trying to gain selection,” says Reid.
The fastest 15-year-old freestyle sprinter in Australasia rounds out the New Zealand swimming team with Michael Pickett (15 years, St Peters Lutheran College) lining up in the men’s 50m and 100m freestyle events.
Earlier this year Pickett relocated to Brisbane to train at one of Australia’s most prestigious clubs, St Peter’s Western. Under the guidance of Kiwi coach John Gatfield, Pickett has improved steadily.
In April, Pickett blitzed the field to win the boys’ 15 years 50m freestyle at the Australian age-group championships.
Just last month Pickett finished second at the New Zealand Opens Championships in the men’s 50m and 100m freestyle to book his ticket to Buenos Aires.
“This selection is awesome news and gives me real confidence for my future. The competition's going to be a great stepping stone for the end goal of competing at an Olympic Games,” said Pickett.
The 15-year-old also highlighted his specific targets for the Youth Olympic Games.
“To qualify for the final, I want to go under 50 seconds for the first time in the 100m and get into 22 seconds for the 50m.”
New Zealand won two bronze medals in swimming at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games to Gabrielle Fa’amausili (50m backstroke) and Bobbi Gichard (100m backstroke).
The Youth Olympic Games will run from October 6-18th in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Chelsey Edwards (women’s 50m, 100m, 200m freestyle) and Quinton Hurley (men’s 200m, 400m, 800m freestyle) have been conditionally selected as non-travelling reserves.
She only took up her sport last season, but this November Wellington East Girls’ College’s Macy Burns joins the Junior Black Fins team for the 2018 Lifesaving World Youth Championships in Australia.
Macy, who represents Lyall Bay, New Zealand’s oldest surf lifesaving club, is the sole Wellington athlete in the 12-strong Junior Black Fins team who will compete in 43 pool and beach lifesaving events against over 40 countries over five days of competition in Adelaide. The Junior Black Fins will compete alongside the Black Fins team in the senior competition.
“I only started surf lifesaving about this time last year,” she says. “I started training about a month before the pool champs last year and it just kind of went well!
“I have been swimming my whole life and then I just got into surf lifesaving, it’s fun and I really enjoy it. None of my family has done it so I am the first one.”
The fact she also lives near Lyall Bay, the club she joined last summer and represents, is more coincidental.
In March Macy competed in her first New Zealand Surf Lifesaving Championships in Gisborne and won medals in the Women’s U19 Tube Rescue and Run-swim-run events.
She recently had a taste of international surf lifesaving competition with the New Zealand Surf Lifesaving High Performance team that finished second at the annual Sanyo Cup in Japan.
“That was first time representing a New Zealand team, so it was pretty exciting, “she says. “We weren’t far away from Australia either.”
With a strong background in swimming, Macy’s main events are related to that. “At the Junior World Champs I am not doing too many beach events, most of it is in the pool.”
Macy has been swimming competitively at a national and regional level since she was young, representing Wellington plenty of times at national swim meets. Her grandfather used to coach swimming.
She is the Wellington U15 Girls 100m backstroke record holder, setting her record time of 1.06.38 in year 9 in 2014.
Right now Macy is busy training in the pool with both the Capital Swim Club squad and with others such as Lyall Bay Club Captain Sam Lee and Libby Bradley, who is in the 2018 New Zealand Surf Lifesaving Open Squad and who won six U19 titles at the Nationals in March.
“That’s 10 sessions a week at the moment, if I go to all of them,” she says.
There’s a lot coming up before the World Junior Life Saving Championships in November. “We have got the regional [Central Surf lifesaving] pool champs at Naenae Pool in September, the Wellington club swimming champs, the New Zealand Secondary school swimming champs [in Wellington] and the National surf lifesaving pool nationals in October. So it’s a full-on period of competition coming up.”
As well as swimming and surf lifesaving, Macy used to play netball, underwater hockey, skiing and rowing. “I went to the Maadi Cup rowing regatta twice, but I stopped that because it was taking up too much of my time, it was hard to balance that my swimming.”
Macy, who is year 13 and in the same class at WEGC as Pulse netballer Tiana Metuarau, also has NCEA level 3 exams coming up in November whilst the surf lifesaving world champs are on. “I am quite lucky because the world champs only clashes with one of my exams and then my exam after that is quite spaced out and I have time to study for that.”
This coming summer Macy is looking forward to her second full season with the Lyall Bay Surf Club and then is likely to be going to Victoria University next year.
Hometown school Waikato Diocesan School for Girls and Tauranga Boys’ College won the respective girls and boys NZSS Swimming Championship titles in Hamilton over the weekend.
Waikato Dio emerged as the overall winner from the three-day meet featuring almost 150 schools and some 580 competitors.
They beat defending champions Auckland Diocesan in a two-horse race, with over 500 points separating the two Dio schools from third placed Pukekohe High School. 2015 champions Napier Girls’ High School finished fifth.
Tauranga Boys’ College won the boys division with 860 points, almost 200 clear of St Andrew's College on 666, the top finishing South Island school in girls and boys. Two-time defending champions Westlake Boys’ High School finished third.
The NZSS Swimming Championships is very much a team event, over chasing individual wins and times as is the case in traditional swim meets.
Points were awarded in every race, with the school with the most points at the end declared the winner. Twenty six points were awarded for a first place in a race, 21 for a second, 17 for a third and so on a sliding scale.
Waikato Dio’s win over Auckland Dio came down to the relays on the last day. Waikato had their noses in front for much of the meet, but Auckland took the lead on the last day. It came down to the final relay (16 and over Freestyle) and Waikato came out on top.
Waikato Dio completed an outstanding year in the pool, having already won the Waikato and North Island Swimming Championships.
For Waikato Dio, Year 10 Gina McCarthy was the standout swimmer from the weekend, winning nine gold medals, including wins in Freestyle (50m, 100m, 200m and 400m) Breaststroke (50m and 200m) Backstroke (100m and 200m) and IM (200m) races. Holly Isaac won a 10th gold for her school in the 100m Backstroke, while their also won six silvers and five individual bronzes and three relay golds.
Tarquin Magner was the individual star for Tauranga Boys’ with their junior swimmers contributing to much of their points tally. Magner won six gold, one silver and two bronze meals in the 13-year-old age group. Tristan Eiselen won five gold and two bronze medals in the 14-year-old age group. Others who medalled in this age group were Daniel Shanahan (one gold, three silver and one bronze), Travis Hudson (one gold and two silver) and Matthew Wagstaff (silver). The four swimmers combined to win two gold medals in the 200m Freestyle relay and 200m medley relay, where they set an unofficial meet record 1:56.61.
Another Bay of Plenty school was also celebrating, with the Mount Maunganui Intermediate swimming team at the top at the AIMS games for intermediate aged athletes.
The winning Waikato Diocesan School for Girls team was:
Jess Chapman, Sophie Lewis, Grace Soo Choon, Maddi Chapman, Sarah Jeffcoat, Sarah Miller
Freya Sirl, Gina McCarthy, Holly Isaac, Lucy Farrell, Charlize Tordoff, Hannah Morgan, Kelly Lewis
Kiera Wallis, Sarah Wilson, Xanthe Wainui-Mackle
The winning Tauranga Boys’ College team was:
Liam Brown (captain), Declan Dempster, Daniel Shanahan, Matthew Wagstaff, Aidan Heath, Travis Hudson, Joseph Cook, Ben Paterson, Tarquin Magner, Tristan Eiselen, Louis Fitzjohn, Sam Jones, Jacob Browne.
1. Tauranga Boys' College 860
2. St Andrew's College 666
3. Westlake Boys’ High School 573
4. Hamilton Boys’ High School 494
5. Auckland Grammar School 460
1.Waikato Diocesan School 955 points
2. Diocesan School For Girls 903
3. Pukekohe High School 374
4. Baradene College 354
5. Napier Girls High School 307
Swimmer Chelsey Edwards returned from the Junior Commonwealth Games recently with a gold medal, but explains that accolade wasn’t the only highlight of her trip to the Bahamas.
“The team environment was awesome. Everybody supported each other and you could easily tell the New Zealanders in the crowd. We are really noisy,” the Chilton Saint James School (Lower Hutt) swimmer laughs.
Ironically Edwards, a member of the 4x200m freestyle mixed relay team, was a loner for much of the event. A serious virus consigned Chelsey to bed for several days.
“We arrived five days before competition and had two practices a day and I felt good. As the competition got closer I started to get sick. I was really nasal and had to be isolated from my teammates. I was struggling with the temperature and felt pretty bad,” Chelsey complains.
Chelsey was forced to revise her individual program as a result of the illness withdrawing from the 800m freestyle and failing to reach the final of the 200m and 400m freestyle.
Edwards was assigned the task of swimming the last leg of the 4x200m freestyle mixed relay. A weak link in the Kiwi chain could have been costly.
“I got better before the race, but I wasn’t 100%. I was so lucky we had a great team. We went from fastest to slowest and built a lead from the start. I was nervous on the last leg, but the lead was quite large. I was determined to swim well and actually went quicker than my individual race,” Chelsey reflects.
Remarkably it’s not the first time she has battled sickness for triumph. In April at the New Zealand Age Group Championships the 16-year-old developed a debilitating chest infection which went on to impair her breathing in all six of her races.
Despite the handicap Chelsey managed to win five medals, including gold in the 200m freestyle.
“I am not sure why I get sick just before meets. It’s really annoying, but I guess the nine trainings a week teaches you discipline and toughness, “Chelsey responds when asked to explain her resistance.
“I get a buzz out of achieving goals so you just battle through it, “she continued.
Chelsey began swimming at the age of six and was so impressive in her early lessons she was fast tracked to an older class. Her first competitive breakthrough was at the age of 12 when she won seven medals at the New Zealand Age Group Championships.
Last October, she won five gold and four silver medals at the national short course championships, as well placing second among all ages for the 200m freestyle.
Gary Hollywood was the coach of the New Zealand team in the Bahamas. The vastly experienced campaigner described these Junior Commonwealth Games as a career highlight.
“We won 31 medals and 20 of those medals were in swimming. It’s been a tough time for the sport lately with funding cuts, but I am really proud of these young swimmers who performed so strongly. We tried to make a home away from the water in the Bahamas and I think we succeeded.”
Lewis Clareburt caused a storm at the Junior Commonwealth Games recently. The Year 13 swimmer from Scots College, Wellington was the most successful athlete in the entire competition winning three gold and four silver medals. There were 1034 athletics representing 64 countries.
The last thing Clareburt actually expected was a storm before a final, and what’s more it was prior to his signature event the 400m individual medley. Clareburt captures the drama.
“It turned real dark suddenly and the officials advised us the race was postponed. They said the delay wouldn’t last long, but it dragged on to 90 minutes. There was thunder which didn’t actually land in the pool, but all we could do was stretch and wait.”
“They didn’t even have WiFi,” Clareburt laughs.
Clareburt’s gold medal was soon splashed all over the internet. He secured a start to finish victory.
“I led out from the butterfly which is a stroke I really like. I managed to hold the lead in the backstroke. Breaststroke is my weakest discipline, because I am still building the muscle required to go faster, but I was happy with my split. I brought it home in the freestyle,” Clareburt recalls.
Clareburt’s victory time would have been good enough to finish 16th at the recent World Championships. Officially he is ranked 40th in the world.
It should be noted international swimming powerhouse Australia sent a B team to the Games prioritising the World Junior Championships in Indiana later this month. However Clareburt’s time would have won him the Australian National title.
“It would have been nice to go to the World Championships, but swimming New Zealand chose to send a team to the Bahamas instead. I’m not concerned the top Australians were absent. I am racing the clock and winning for the first time on the international stage has built my confidence,” Clareburt states
Clareburt derived great satisfaction from his gold in the 4x400m mixed freestyle relay. New Zealand chose a fastest to slowest approach and Clareburt gained a lead in the first leg which the Kiwis managed to preserve.
“It was real interesting the mixed relay. I’d only done a couple at club meets before. Chelsey Edwards (also from Wellington) swum the last leg. She was against a couple of boys, but did really well to bring it home.”
It wasn’t always plain sailing for Clareburt. He struck trouble in the 200m individual medley and finished with a silver medal.
“I was in the lead, but during the backstroke leg the sun was so bright I couldn’t see where I was going. Towards the end of the lap I got my hands caught briefly in the lane ropes. Those few seconds cost me the gold,” Clareburt rues.
Clareburt established five New Zealand records in the Bahamas. He broke the under-17 mark for the 400m individual medley and 200m freestyle. Additionally he passed the under-18 barriers in both the 200m and 400m individual medley and the 200m freestyle.
Clareburt’s next goal is to perform strongly at the National Short Course Championships in October.
Curiously in March, Clareburt was discarded from the New Zealand High Performance program where leading swimmers receive a card which entitles them to benefits such as free gym membership and access to expert coaching.
Clareburt has chosen to stay in Wellington in 2018 rejecting half a dozen scholarships from the US. If his Commonwealth Games form continues he might have to swart aside even more offers from the States.
“Swimming in an outdoor pool in the Bahamas is completely different from swimming in New Zealand. You breathe in the hot air and it saps your energy. Halfway through I started to feel cramp in my legs. It was terrible at the turns. The race became a tough mental battle.”
Zac Reid recalls of the pain endured during the 1500m freestyle final at the Junior Commonwealth Games recently.
Reid developed a healthy lead, but deteriorating strength in the legs and a stubborn Aussie challenger made life difficult.
“Despite the cramp I actually swam a similar time in the last half of the race, but the Aussie kept reducing the gap. Luckily my lead at the start was big enough to claim the win,” Reid admits.
“You gotta do it, you gotta love it,” Reid, from Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth, responds when asked to explain why he sacrifices a typical teenage life to commit to swimming. All the lonely hours of training aren’t a burden.
“I love working hard, having a focus and being fit and healthy. The lessons and disciplines of swimming can set you up for life,” Reid believes.
Swimming runs in the family, Zac’s father Byron Reid represented New Zealand at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland.
Zac’s breakthrough success was in 2014 when he won three age group gold medals at the New Zealand Short Course championships. In 2016 he qualified for the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii.
The Junior Commonwealth Games was Reid first major success outside of New Zealand and Australia and included a novelty triumph. Reid competed for New Zealand in the 4x200m mixed relay, his first relay ever.
“That was crazy because it was real strategic. You had to get the order of swimmers in your team right to have a chance. We decided to start with two boys to get a break on the field and luckily the girls Chelsey Edwards and Laticia Transom did a great job to bring it home. It was pretty nervous watching boys chase girls,” Reid reflects.
Reid swam the second leg for New Zealand after Lewis Clareburt led out.
Reid’s next goal is to be New Zealand’s leading 1500m swimmer. His personal best in short course (25m pool) is 15.22.44 while his long course (50m pool) PB is 15.36.82.
The next major meeting for Reid is the National Short Course Championships in Auckland in October followed by Commonwealth Games qualifying. Reid is grateful to have just secured sponsorship from the Engine swim team.
Reid also competes in surf live saving out of the Fitzroy club. In 2016 he represented New Zealand at the World Championships after being named Under 16 Champion Male Athlete at the 2016 NZ Surf Life Saving Championships, having won both the U16 Run Swim Run and the Surf Race.
In 2018, Reid plans to work in a water safety program run by his coach Sue Southgate and study extramurally at Massey University.
In March Capital swimmer Lewis Clareburt from Scots College in Wellington equalled 1996 Olympic Champion Danyon Loader’s near 25-year-old national age group record in the 200m freestyle, clocking in at 1.51.70. When the 17-year old returned home to check his Facebook page there was a special note in his inbox.
“Danyon coached my older sister and passed on his congratulations, which was pretty cool. He also said, ‘this is only the beginning,” Clareburt reveals.
In nine days Clareburt will head to the Bahamas as part of an 11-strong New Zealand squad for the Junior Commonwealth Games.
Clareburt will be a busy boy competing in five individual events and three mixed relays where he will look to enhance his growing reputation which soared again at the New Zealand Open Championships in March where he won three silver medals and set the National age group record in the 400m individual medley (IM).
The eight events Clareburt will compete in are:
“The 400 IM is my favourite event. It’s fun testing all strokes and requires discipline and endurance to succeed,” he says.
Times suggest Clareburt will be a strong medal contender in the medleys. His personal best in the 400 IM is 4:21.05 set in April. At the Australian age group Nationals, Nathan Robinson won the same event in a time of 4:21:80.
Australia is typically the strongest swimming country at the event. Clareburt is swimming similar times to Australian Clyde Lewis who won the 200 and 400 IM double at the Games in 2015. Clareburt is taking nothing for granted.
“Breaststroke is my weakest stroke. It’s a power stroke and I’m not the biggest so I am spending a lot of time in the gym bulking up and trying to get stronger,” he admits.
The Bahamas is novel territory where diet must be monitored and heat presents considerable challenges.
“Were not allowed to drink the local tap water and will be on a stricter diet than usual. Things should be pretty good, but we have to be cautious.” Clareburt explained.
“The races will be held in an outdoor pool so doing backstroke considering the sun will be a challenge. Also, if the water temperature is too hot that could be a drag,”
A new challenge will be taking part in the relays alongside teammates Chelsey Edwards, Madie Falconer, Callum Prime and Zac Reid.
“We don’t have a lot of time together so when we meet we will work on transitions which is something we should be able to do quickly anyway. I’m not sure how we compare to the rest, but we will give it our best,” Clareburt predicts.
With a strong showing at the Junior Commonwealth Games, Clareburt will likely appear at the sixth FINA World Junior Swimming Championships to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana in August. The championships are for girls aged 14-17 and boys age 15-18. Nearly 1,000 athletes from 100 different countries are expected to compete at this event.
Christchurch Girls’ High School Year 12 swimmer Hannah Bates joins the 34-strong New Zealand team for the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) in the Bahamas from 18-23 July.
Hannah has qualified for the 200m and 400m Individual Medley, the 100m and 200m Butterfly and the 200m Backstroke events.
Anyone who has swum for fitness or recreationally will say that butterfly is one of the hardest strokes in swimming. How did Hannah get into butterfly?
“They say you don’t find a stroke, a stroke finds you,” she explained. “I do lots of medley swimming and that includes butterfly so I have developed that stroke from there.”
“You need to have a lot of upper body strength to be a good butterfly swimmer; you have to have good power, good flexibility and hip movement.”
Hannah has been in and around the water her whole life, while she also used to do rhythmic gymnastics. “I was introduced to the water when I was six months old when my mum took me swimming in mother-baby classes. When I was 10 I started competitive swimming and that’s been my main sport ever since.”
She qualified for the upcoming CYG team in April at the Australian Age Group Championships in Brisbane.
“I went to Australia and won gold in the 400m individual medley and silver in the 200m individual medley.”
She finished that trip as being 10th overall for all girls and boys on the ranking FINA points system.
“The closer you are to the world record time, the more FINA points you receive - therefore this increases your chances of being selected. These were no qualifying standards; the swimmers were selected from this points system. I knew that I would need to achieve over 750 FINA points to be considered for the short-list. I was just over 750 FINA points after Australian Age Group Championships.”
“That was my first overseas trip with a New Zealand team and this will be my second one. The Commonwealth Youth Games is going to be a huge step up from Australian Age.”
Was qualifying for the CYG team the goal when she went to Australia? “Not at all, I didn’t even put any thought into making this team. I made the long-list team last December and I thought that making the team would be a huge ask but I would try my best!”
What are Hannah’s expectations? “Just like in Australia I don’t have any expectations, this is just my second New Zealand team, and so what is important for me is the overseas experience, making new personal best times and embracing the atmosphere. We are crossing eight different time zones and it's 26 hours of flying so it’s nothing like I have every experienced before.”
There will also be the new experience of competing in an outdoor pool for the first time. “This is going to be completely new to me, learning to race with the sun and in any conditions. I don’t have to acclimatise to the water temperature though as that is set the same in all pools.”
Hannah is very much flying the flag for the Mainland in her age group in swimming.
“There is no one else from my region – I was the only one from the South Island in the New Zealand team to go on the Australian trip. For the Bahamas team there’s just me and Nick from the South Island.”
That is Nick Moulai from St Bede’s College who is in the athletics team competing in the 1,500m and the 3,000m.
She’s receiving lots of support from the Pathway to Podium programme, which she has recently become a member of. “With Pathway to Podium I have Nutrition, Sports Psychology, Strength and Conditioning and Athlete Life support and that has been really beneficial.”
A member of the Selwyn Swim Club, she trains frequently. “I train eight to nine times a week in the pool and I do three gym sessions a week, which includes strength and conditioning, weights, cross fit and Pilates once a week.”
Hannah and the New Zealand CYG team depart for the Bahamas during the upcoming school holidays.
Lewis Clareburt has been around the water for as long as he can remember. He first started swimming when he was three years old and began competitive swimming at the age of eight.
For a long time Clareburt concedes he was a tentative swimmer. He can recall being lapped in several races.
"I kind of fell away for a while, but I stuck at it when others quit. In 2015 I won my first National title in the 400m medley in Wellington and got noticed by High Performance Sport and that has helped me hugely," Clareburt says.
At the 2016 New Zealand Age Group Championships Lewis won four national age group titles, in the 200m and 400m freestyle, 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley.
His time in the 400m freestyle, 4:01.89, was a personal best by 8 seconds and also saw him qualify for the New Zealand team to compete at the 2016 Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
His winning time in the 400m individual medley (4:31.19) broke a 26 year old Wellington record.
"I didn't expect to qualify for the Pan Pac's. It wasn't something I planned to be honest," Clareburt admits.
At the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii Lewis continued to set personal best times in 400m freestyle and individual medley. In the 400m freestyle he finished 12th in a time of 3:58.66 and in the 400m individual medley he finished 11th in 4:25.54. In the 200m butterfly he finished 7th in a time of 2:03.56 beating his previous personal best in that event by nearly three seconds. What does Clareburt attribute his dramatic improvement to?
"The high performance program has been massive for me. Lately I have been training 23 hours a week. The access to better equipment, nutritional advice and my new coach Gary Hollywood have been huge. Gary tells me it's the extra stuff that counts."
This summer Clareburt won eight gold medals at the Wellington Long Course Swimming Championships and broke three Wellington records, and on Sunday won the 3km Capital Classic.
"That was a tough race. It was really windy and the water was choppy, There were two laps on the course. On the first lap I just tried to stay with the main pack before making my move. It was hard work, but it ended well," Clareburt says.
In addition to swimming Clareburt is involved in surf life saving. This summer has been a golden one for Clareburt. A fortnight ago at the Surf Challenge in Wairmarama, Clareburt competed for Capital Coast in the Open division winning five gold medals and helping Wellington win the Open Division title for the first time in 16 years.
Lewis is also a member of the Junior Black Fins team. Last year Clareburt and his family travelled to the World Championships in the Netherlands for the World Junior Championships. Competing against 39 counties Clareburt defied his own expectations returning home with a World title and five silver medals. He won his gold medal in the rescue tube and rescue race.*
"That was a total surprise, but a great feeling. My teammates were great and in a close race that was crucial," Clareburt acclaims.
Clareburt missed almost the whole of term three last year. Despite this he managed to pass NCEA level two and is a prefect at Scots. Most of his foreign travel expenses are covered through his own fundraising.
In 2017, Clareburt is targeting qualification the Junior Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas. He hopes to add to his burgeoning medal collection.
"I have about 300 medals in a big bag in my wardrobe. I am running out of room, but I guess I can find some more," Clareburt laughs.
*The event consists of four persons - a patient, a Rescue Tube swimmer and two rescuers. The rescue tube swimmer swims out behind the buoy line to secure the rescue tube around the patient and then tow the patient back to the beach. On return to the beach, two rescuers must drag or carry the patient past the finish line.
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