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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.