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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