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The start of something extraordinary

Young swimming talent impress at NZ Age Group Championships

New Zealand’s young swimming talent is in a healthy state according to former Commonwealth Games and World Championship medallist, Gary Hurring.

Hurring, the out-going high performance athlete development coach for Swimming New Zealand, has been impressed with the performances at the New Zealand Age Championships that finished in Wellington tonight.

Nearly 700 swimmers from more than 100 clubs, including several who are targeting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, were in action at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre.

The championships finished with 16 national age records, but it has been the quality of those swims that has most impressed Hurring.

“It has been an outstanding week of results for our young swimmers coming up,” said Hurring.” There have been some really good swims from the likes of Mya Rasmussen, who almost reached world championship qualifying standard, while Lewis Clareburt has moved his swimming in a good direction. We also have some great kids at all levels and in all strokes coming through.

“The development of the sport is looking very good in New Zealand.”

Hurring believes some of the young talent on display this week could force their way into the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

“There is a group that will be strong contenders to qualify for the Commonwealth Youth Games which is a direct pathway towards major international meets that lead to Tokyo 2020. And we have a core young group and quite a big one that are capable of not just qualifying for Tokyo but achieving podium finishes.”

The final night of the championships produced two records. Gabrielle Fa’amausili, from Auckland’s United club, won the 17 years 50m backstroke in 29.02 breaking the record of 29.47 set by Australian based Ella Cossil last year.

It was Fa’amausili’s fourth title and fourth record for the week with the others coming in the 50m and 100m freestyle and the 100m backstroke.

The other record went to 14-year-old Gisborne swimmer Michael Pickett. He clocked 53.28s in the 100m freestyle to take 0.2s off Sam McKenzie’s record set in 2014. The Enterprise club swimmer also broke the 50m freestyle record earlier in the week.

The leading swimmer was Lewis Clareburt who finished the week with an impressive eight national titles after winning the 200m individual medley and 100m freestyle tonight.

Clareburt clocked 2:04.30 to take out the 200m individual medley before a strong finish in the 100m freestyle saw him come home first in 51.92. He finished the week with a total of nine medals, including one bronze, and two national age group records.

Erika Fairweather, from the Neptune club in Dunedin, claimed two national titles in the 13 years age group today to take her total gold medal count to seven. Tonight she clocked 4:28.57 to win the 400m freestyle before winning the 200m individual medley in 2:25.08.

The other standouts on the final night were Manawatu swimmer Paris Cutler and North Shore’s Yeonsu Lee.

Cutler, 14, concluded a successful meet with a win in the 400m freestyle to complete her freestyle title collection after winning all five freestyle events for her age group this week. Lee also picked up her fifth win for the week in the 400m freestyle for 17 to 18 years.

The championships doubled as a qualifying meet for the Youth Commonwealth Games with a number of top performers now eying the New Zealand Open Championships in Auckland in two weeks.

CAPTION: Michael Pickett at the New Zealand Age Swimming Championships in Wellington today. Credit: BW Media. 

NZ Age Groups