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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.