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.
Finn Kennard-Campbell turned up to the National Short Course swimming championships three years ago and was advised by an accomplished New Zealand coach to “take it easy.”
A gold medal and National U13 age group record in the 50m backstroke put paid to any easy swimming in the future. Kennard-Campbell stunned with his talent and is presently the top ranked U16 backstroke swimmer in the country. He holds the national U13, 14 and 15 records in the stroke as well as winning a bronze medal in the New Zealand Open Championships earlier this year.
Kennard-Campbell was born in New Zealand, but moved to England when he was three years old. He returned to New Zealand when he was nine and remembers his first competitive experience in the water was a humble one.
“I was in Year 8 and turned up to one of those compulsory swimming sports days they have at school. I didn’t really want to be there, but I did really well and things kind of snowballed from there,” he says.
For the past two years Kennard-Campbell has been a leading member of the Westlake Boys’ High School swim team who have won the National Teams Championships. In 2015 Kennard-Campbell was awarded the leading individual award after winning eight gold medals.
“Last year’s event was in Hamilton and I really enjoyed it. It was my first experience swimming for Westlake and it was great to have so much success, but I feel this year was more challenging because there were a greater variety of swimmers,” he says.
This year’s event was staged in Wellington and Kennard-Campbell won gold in the 50 and 100m backstroke as well as the 50m fly and freestyle. He collected a further five silver medals.
“I really enjoy the team aspect of this event. It’s quite tribal and you have to work together. In the heats the winner gets 40 points and the fourth place finisher one point so it’s important to swim strongly from the start. In the finals the winner gets 40 points and the last placed swimmer 30 points so you can have outstanding individuals, but it takes a team effort to win,” Kennard-Campbell explains.
Jonathan Selman was in top form for Westlake. The 14 year-old won five gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
Kennard-Campbell was a recent receipt of the Golden Holmes scholarship which helps funds his swimming costs.
The leading individual was the outstanding 13-year-old prospect from Tawa College, Bronson Lloyd, who finished with seven gold medals and two silvers.
Others of note were Zac Dell, 15, from Pukekohe High School with four gold medals and one bronze and Sungu Kim, 14 from Rosmini College with four golds.
The leading Para-Swimmer was 17 year old Chris Arbuthnott (Palmerston North Boys’ High School) who won all of his S9 category swims.
The final standing were: Westlake Boys 2043, Wellington College 1974, Palmerston North Boys 1425, St Andrews College 1370, Napier Boys 1146, Hamilton Boys 1091, Pukekohe High 813, Auckland Grammar 805, Stratford High 672.5, Taupo Nui-A-Tia 587.
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Diocesan School for Girls returned to Auckland on Monday as New Zealand Secondary Schools Swimming Champions for the first time.
Dio won the event in Wellington last weekend ahead of close neighbours and keen rivals St Cuthbert’s College and three-time defending champions Napier Girls’ High School. Dio won with 1,839 points, just ahead of St Cuthbert’s on 1770.5 and with Napier GHS on 1,433.
Dio’s Sports Manager and head of aquatics, Angie Winstanley-Smith, said the team was thrilled to win the NZSS Swimming title, realising their goal.
“Our swimming captain, Annabelle Paterson, has just been in Hawaii for the Junior Pan Pacific Championships and she has come through Dio with a lot of great swimmers. But we have never really gone to this event and targeted the team aspect. She said I really want to go after this title, I believe we have got the swimmers to do it so can you help me go for it?
“Traditionally we’ve only sent a few students, but with Annabelle’s enthusiasm and some parental help we assembled a group of swimmers to prepare and 17 went down to Wellington in the end.”
Angie said it was a tough battle over the weekend, especially in edging out rivals St Cuthbert’s.
“They’ve got phenomenal swimmers and it’s a healthy rivalry we have across all sports.
“What’s really cool about this event is the team aspect over chasing individual wins and times. The girls were swimming lots more races and entering plenty of events that they usually wouldn’t do. It’s all about contributing to the team, so winning points in every race was paramount and the swimmers just did event after event.
“We had Gina Galloway who got a stack of medals and she’s a backstroker by trade but got right in the mix in the butterfly and got a silver medal there.
The competition was super-tight as well.
“After the first day we were about 90 points behind St Cuthbert’s and then after day two we were 14 points ahead.”
Points were awarded in every race, with the school with the most points at the end declared the winner. In finals, 40 points were awarded for a first place in a race, 39 for second, 38 for third and down to 30 for 10th.
"So 13 points is one swimmer in one race.
“On day two the girls woke up and were raring to go and the real focus was getting as many points on the board as we could and then on Sunday we just had to match St Cuthbert’s. They had a finalist; we had a finalist and so on.
“Napier GHS and Waikato Diocesan weren’t out of it either, and they ended up having a real tug of war for that third spot.
“For us it was down to the last race. We went into the last event with about a 60-point lead – but that’s only two finalists so it was just a case of maintaining that, which is what we did.”
As well as Swimming, Dio is making a splash in other aquatic sports too.
Dio’s senior team finished fourth at the NZSS Secondary School water polo Championships in April, while the school’s intermediate team won the recent AIMS Games (Years 5 and 6) and their junior team won and their senior team finished third at the recent NZSS Underwater Hockey nationals.
Angie is a former elite age grade swimmer and competed for her home nation Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics in water polo. She’s been at Dio for two years and has also recently been appointed coach of the NZ Women’s water polo side.
“We came fourth in the NZSS water polo championships earlier this year, improving from ninth last year, reflecting a focus on development we’ve put in place. We have just won back-to-back AIMS title, so hopefully the results at the bottom end will start coming through and next year we should be strong at intermediate, junior and senior level.”
The 2016 junior North Island water polo championships are coming up in November and Angie says that Dio has an outside shot at winning that if they play well.
Then there’s the school’s underwater hockey success.
“They just did phenomenally, the juniors won their event and the seniors only finished fifth at the Northern Region tournament and went on to win bronze at nationals. They have great coaches, who are also Dio old girls putting back into the school.”
What’s the overlap of students competing in more than one of these sports?
“The swimmers not so much, because they are busy enough with that, but there are five water polo girls in the swimming team and then there are about four underwater hockey girls who play water polo as well.”
NZSS Swimming Championships, Wellington 9-11 September – top 10 schools (girls):
Diocesan School for Girls 1839, St Cuthbert’s College 1770.5, Napier Girls 1433, Waikato Diocesan 1355.5, Columba College 1062, Pukekohe High School 1020, Mt Albert Grammar School 813,Wellington Girls’ College 791, Baradene College 732.5, Wellington East Girls’ College 656.
Diocesan School for Girls – individual results:
Annabelle Paterson (16 and over)
1st 200m Back
2nd 100m Free
2nd 100m Back
Alice Waldow (13 years)
1st 200m Back
2nd 50m Fly
2nd 200m IM
2nd 100m fly
3rd 100m Free
3rd 50m Free
3rd 50m Back
3rd 100m Back
Gina Galloway (15 years)
1st 100m Back
1st 50m Fly
1st 200m Back
3rd 200m IM
2nd 100m Fly
Conor Tarrant (15 years)
2nd 200m Breast
2nd 200m IM
2nd 50m Breast
2nd 100m Breast
3rd 50m Breast skins
Imogen Rodgers (15 years)
2nd 50m Back
2nd 200m Back
2nd 100m Back
Claudia Avis (13 years)
2nd 200m Free
3rd 200m IM
3rd 100m Breast
15 and under 200m Medley Relay – 1st place
15 and under 200m Free Relay – 1st Place
16 and over free Relay – 2nd Place
Jess Shorter Robinson
16 and over Medley Relay – 2nd Place
Other team members who contributed over the weekend
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This past week, New New New New NewZealand’s leading young swimmers have been competing in the New Zealand Age Group Swimming Championships in Wellington.
Many swimmers this week have been competing to qualify for the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii in August, featuring the best swimmers from Australia, USA, Japan and the rest of the Pacific region.
The swimmers have been representing their clubs. The NZSS Swimming Championships are in September.
One of the stars of the meet was Year 12 Avondale College and United club swimmer Gabrielle Fa’amausili, who led the way with six golds from six swims, ahead of the five golds earned by Gina McCarthy (Hillcrest club), Yeonsu Lee (North Shore) and Chelsey Edwards (SwimZone).
On Friday night, Fa’amausili - who is the junior world 50m backstroke champion - finished as she began at the start of the week, clinching two wins.
Fa’amausili clocked 57.05s to win her final in the 100m freestyle for 16 years age group, to go under the qualifying standard for the Pan Pac Champs by 25/100ths of a second. She followed this with a win in the 50m backstroke in 28.95s to bring her tally to six wins from six finals.
“I’m really happy with how the week went and I’m just happy with my training and everything with my new club,” Fa’amausili told Swimming New Zealand. She moved to the United club [Auckland] last year under head coach Igor Polianski, the former Olympic backstroke gold medallist.
“I’m just looking forward to achieving bigger and better things throughout the year and I’m doing it with such an amazing team as a bonus as well so yeah I’m just real happy with how the week went.
“I’m definitely going to take some time off now and just rest and re-evaluate everything for the new season and concentrate on Oceania’s which is the next big thing and then work towards Junior Pan Pacs.”
Top of the pops in the male competition was North Shore’s Wilrich Coetzee (formerly Orewa College) with victories in the 200m butterfly and 50m backstroke and second in the 100m freestyle for 17-18 years. It brought his tally to seven gold medals and 11 medals in all to top the medal count.
Behind him was Tryon Henry, 14 years, from Howick Pakuranga with six golds, including a win in the 100m freestyle on Friday night, from the five wins to Josh Gilbert (Stratford), 14 years, and Lewis Clareburt (Capital) 16 years.
At the start of the meet on Monday, two swimmers – Mya Rasmussen and Yeonsu Lee - bettered the qualifying standard for selection to the Junior Pan Pac Champs while Josh Gilbert and Mario Koenigspeger set national age records.
Lee (North Shore), who competed in the world junior championships last year, was the first to reach the Junior Pan Pacific qualifying standard when she snuck under the qualifying time in the morning heats of the 200m freestyle, with a time of 2:04.26.
The 17 year old shaved off another 3/100ths of a second in the finals to win the national title for her age group and provide a confidence boost for the week ahead.
Rising 15 year old star Rasmussen (Kiwi West Aquatics) joined Lee in qualifying in the heats reaching the 400m individual medley standard with a time of 4:50.42. She took out the national age group title in the evening to be just 0.1s slower than the heat.
Gilbert, 14, continued on his record-setting way in winning his age group in the 100m breaststroke. Gilbert broke his own national mark in the 14 years 100m breaststroke in finishing second at the recent Australian age championships in 1:06.26. He nipped under that time by 0.1s to add to his record run.
Koenigspeger (Howick Pakuranga) won the 17-18 years final of the same event in 1:01.80 to take more than half a second off his own national mark. The 18-year-old, too old to qualify for the Junior Pan Pacs despite bettering the time, also won his age title in the 50m butterfly in 25.16s.
Parnell’s Mille MacDonald, 18, was the class of the women’s 100m breaststroke in 1:12 while Fa’amausili was fastest of all in the 50m butterfly in 27.93.
Two qualifying swims and two national age group records highlighted the second day on Tuesday.
Gabrielle Fa’amausili and Hayley McIntosh (Northwave, Whangarei) reached the qualifying standards for the Junior Pan Pacific Championships. Fa’amausili’s time of 1:00.76 in tonight’s finals of the 100m backstroke also set a New Zealand 16 years age group record.
Josh Gilbert set his second national record of the meet, claiming the 14 years 50m breaststroke title with a time of 30.45.
Fa’amausili was more than three seconds inside the qualifying mark for Hawaii, but just 6/100ths of a second inside the national record held by fellow teenage rival Bobbi Gichard.
McIntosh made the grade in the 400m freestyle in the morning heats with a time of 4:20.40. She took out the national age group title in the evening with a time of 4:21.22.
Her clubmate, 15 year old Ciara Smith took out her age group in the 50m breaststroke with her time of 33.21 just 7/100ths of a second outside Annabelle Carey’s national age record, and was the fastest of all age groups.
Gilbert followed up his win in the 50m breaststroke with victory in the 200m individual medley. He clocked 2:10.97 in the medley to be only 0.4s off the national record and was the fourth fastest overall.
His 30.45s effort in the 50m breaststroke final went under the previous national age record of Bradley Arona Waqanivavala of 30.62 set five years ago.
Meanwhile Coetzee, won the 200m individual medley in 2:04.43, under the standard for the Junior Pan Pacific Championships, but the teenager is outside the age limit.
He backed up with a strong effort, clocking 56.88s to be fastest in the 100m backstroke.
Three Taranaki teenagers along with Fa’amausili produced the standout performances on day three.
Eliot Lundon-Moore and Zac Reid (both Aquabladz, New Plymouth) reached the qualifying standard for the Junior Pan Pac Champs while Fa’amausili achieved her second qualifying swim of the week.
Fa’amausili was only 3/100ths of a second off her New Zealand 16 years age group record in the 50m freestyle, winning in 25.65s which was also under the Junior Pan Pac qualifying time of 26.11.
Breaststroker Josh Gilbert broke his third New Zealand age group record of the meet, this time winning the 14 years 200m breaststroke which was his fourth national age group title. Gilbert went 2:23.64 to break his own record by more than a second to be well clear of the field.
Commonwealth Youth Games swimmer Lundon-Moore edged his way under the 200m breaststroke time in the heats with a time of 2:19.60 but was unable to claim the national title which went to Howick Pakuranga’s Mario Koenigsperger (2:16.37), who is too old to be eligible for the Junior Pan Pacs.
Reid also reached the qualifying standard in the morning in the 400m freestyle clocking 4:01.58, but was just edged out in the final by Capital’s Lewis Clareburt who took honours in 4:01.89.
Fa’amausili and her United clubmate Annabelle Paterson both bettered the Junior Pan Pac qualifying standard in the 200m backstroke while Northland’s McIntosh scored a second qualifying swim.
Fa’amausili swam 2:15.56 in the final to go under the Junior Pan Pac qualifying time and take just over three seconds off her previous personal best.
Paterson, 17, bettered the qualifying standard in the 200m backstroke event twice today after going 2:15.93 in the heats and then touching in 2:14.30 in tonight’s finals to also take out the age group national title.
McIntosh picked up her second qualifying swim of the meet in the 800m freestyle going 8:56.72.
McIntosh won silver in the 800m freestyle at the recent Australian Age Group Championships and claimed the national age group title tonight.
Caitlin Deans (Neptune) also came devastatingly close to also going under the qualifying time touching in 9:00.48. The qualifying time was 9:00.41.
In other swims Coetzee continued his winning ways, picking up titles in the 17-18 years over the 200m individual medley and 100m butterfly.
The 100m Rescue Medley sounds like an exhausting event in the pool. Katikati College 2015 Sportsperson of the Year Libby Bradley recently explained it to College Sport Media.
“It’s similar to the 100m freestyle for the first lap, but then on the return 50m you tumble turn, hold your breath underwater for 17.5m and then pick up a 55kg manikin and swim with it the rest of the way home. It’s really hard.”
Last month at the National Surf Life Saving Pool Championships in Auckland, Libby smashed the New Zealand U19 100m Rescue Medley record. “I broke the record by almost two seconds. My time was a 1.19.6 and the previous time was a 121.3, the person whose record I broke is in the New Zealand Surf Life Saving team that won the Open World Championships last year.”
Representing the champion Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service club, the Year 12 student also added gold in the 200m Obstacles Swim and bronze in the 50m Manikin Carry and 100m Manikin Carry with Fins.
Earlier this year Libby also won gold at the New Zealand Age-Group Swimming Championships and competed with distinction at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships and then later won a slew of medals at the New Zealand Short Course Swimming Championships.
Not bad considering she suffered a serious injury setback at the start of the year.
“In January this year I dislocated my shoulder - so from January to March I was unable to train. I did it while playing beach flag just for fun.”
There’s never a right time to get injured, but Libby’s shoulder injury came at exactly the wrong time, at the height of her training season and several weeks before the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Nationals in Gisborne.
Although underdone, she came back to compete for her club Mt Maunganui at the Surf Life Saving Championships. “I made the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Development squad. I missed out on the team unfortunately, but hopefully if I continue to work hard and don’t get injured again then I can make it.”
The Mt Maunganui club stormed to their third consecutive overall points win, and won the Alan Gardner Trophy for the sixth time in the past nine years.
Libby also made the Development Squad in 2014, after winning her age group board race and the diamond race (surf, swim and a board combined) at last year’s national surf lifesaving championships.
Making up for lost time after her injury, Libby then won the 2015 Intermediate Girls 100m freestyle at the New Zealand Age-Group Swimming Championships in Wellington, representing the Greerton Swimming Club.
She also went to the Gold Coast for the Australian Life Saving Nationals and finished fifth in the U17 surf swim, competing against international competitors as well as the best Australians.
Her results were consistent at the New Zealand Short Course Swimming Championships in Auckland in August. “I got six bronzes in my 16 Year Old races – the 50m freestyle, the 100m freestyle, the 200m freestyle and 800m freestyle, the 100m IM and the 50m breaststroke.”
She said she took up competitive swimming as a spin-off from surf-saving. “I originally started swimming for the surf, but then realised I could do okay in swimming too. But I think my main sport is still surf.”
Does she also work as a surf lifesaver? “It’s hard to work because I have got to train, and you have got to have some rest time.”
She commutes half an hour down to Mt Maunganui and back twice a day to train for train for two hours at a time. So that’s six hours a day spent training.
She has a clear goal. “I am hoping to make the New Zealand Youth Surf Life Saving team going to the World Championships next year in the Netherlands.”
This week she’s got NCEA Level 2 exams to take care of first. She was also head of her class in history and in general science this year so should do okay there too. Next year she’s deputy head girl at Katikati College.
What’s in the water at Napier Girls’ High School?
The school is celebrating their team’s three-peat of titles at the National Secondary Schools Swimming Championships held at Hamilton last weekend.
It was “very scary” at the end of the three-day meet, Napier Girls’ High School’s (NGHS) Head of Swimming Louise Bassett-Foss told College Sport Media. After holding a 54-point lead after day two, NGHS withstood a strong third day comeback by Auckland’s St Cuthbert’s College to win by just four points.
“I thought we were about 37 points ahead, so I miscalculated somewhere along the line which made it even more nerve-wracking,” Louise explained.
“The St Cuthbert’s team had three really good older swimmers so they managed to get some really good points in those last few races, so it was very close.”
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.
The final tally was: NGHS 666, 1; St Cuthbert's College 662, 2; Waikato Diocesan 457, 3; Pukekohe High School 434, 4; Hamilton Girls’ High School 340, 5; Baradene College and Columbia College 334, equal 6; Christchurch Girls’ High School 219, 8’ Diocesan School 218, 9; Whakatane High School 206, 10.
“We got four golds, five silvers and about four bronzes. All our other points were accumulated by girls finishing in minor places.”
Louise said that the win was the result of lots of hard work and that it was a real team effort. “We’ve got a really great depth of swimmers here in the Hawke’s Bay, especially girls. We are fed by a really strong club called Napier Aquahawks.”
The two girls that stood out for NGHS were Ruby Adsett who won three golds and Maddie Mason won seven medals in total.
“The great thing about this event though is that it’s all about the team, so swimmers not only target the races they know they will do well in, but they will also enter other races to try and win points for the team, as opposed to other meets where it is more about their individual performances and times.”
Until recently, the school’s star in the pool was Bobbi Gichard, who was in Samoa last week winning gold medals for New Zealand at the Youth Commonwealth Games.
“Bobbi left our school in term one this year and she now does all her learning by correspondence. She’s been an inspiration to our swim team, although she only swam for us in about three races about two years ago.”
Success breeds success. “I think because we have had a good swim team for a couple of years we now attract girls who want to be involved in swimming and to a school that supports swimming.”
“Often with big girls’ schools, it’s about the high profile schools like netball, basketball and volleyball, but often sports like swimming don’t get the recognition and that’s something we were keen to do.”
NGHS have won the national title for each of the three years since a separate trophy has been at stake for girls.
NGHS went up to Hamilton wearing the favourites tag. “We also had a lot of swimmers in our team that I knew would get top 10 results, but I was a bit nervous about whether we had the girls that were going to get the golds, silvers and bronzes.”
They had a young team as well. “The Year 11s, 12s and 13s all swim in one age group and there’s a big difference between these ages – and we didn’t have any Year 13s in our team this year.”
How much training are the swimmers doing? “Our competitors would be in the water nine times a week and training about two hours each session. So most of those girls would be doing about four hours in the pool every day.”
“That’s also why it’s so good to have this event, because it gives the girls kudos for the school, and to retain their national championship title after working so hard is just a huge buzz for them.”
The future appears bright for the NGHS swim team as well. “With our young team this year, not only are we not losing any swimmers, but I’ve earmarked about four new girls coming to our school next year.”
Well done Napier Girls’ High School.
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