Thu, May 9, 2024 9:02 PM

Swimmers shine at age group nationals


Peter Jones

A team of seven Blenheim swimmers have returned from the National Age Group Championships in Hawkes Bay, with some outstanding results.

The swimmers had to meet tough qualifying standards to be able to compete, and making a final meant being one of the top 10 swimmers in their age group.

They also achieved multiple personal best times and broke four Swimming Nelson Marlborough records.

Coach Shane Skehan said he was, "over the moon with the progress this group of swimmers have made”.

“They stepped up and competed successfully in the high pressure environment of nationals and I am looking forward to seeing how far these swimmers can go.”

Nicola Lovell led the way in the 15-year-old age group, making seven finals with three top five finishes including a bronze medal in the 200 individual medley. She was fourth in both the 100m breaststroke and 400IM and 10th in the 200m freestyle, 50m breastroke and 100m backstroke. She also broke Swimming Nelson Marlborough records for 15-year-old girls in 200 and 400IMs.

Competing in the upper age group of 17-18 years, Jack Love made three finals and achieved two fifth place finishes with outstanding swims in the 400IM and 400m freestyle along with an unexpected seventh finish in the 100m butterfly final, taking a second off his entry time in the process. He swam a new Swimming Nelson Marlborough record for 17-year-old boys in the 400IM of 4:46.11, taking three seconds off the previous record.

Will Atkinson, at his first national meet, also made three finals in the 13 year age group, swimming to fourth in both the 100m butterfly and 50m backstroke and 9th in the 200IM. He broke the Swimming Nelson Marlborough record in the 100 butterfly for 13-year-old boys.

Jessica Lovell reached both the 50m and 100m 16-year-old girls finals in her favoured butterfly event, swimming over a second faster than her entry time in the 50m finish sixth claiming 10th position in the 200m fly. She also achieved a personal best time in the 100m butterfly.

Riley Guildford, Herbie Hudson and Adam Brain at the South Island Juniors.

Finlay McNabb had qualified all three backstroke events in the 16-year-old age group and took four seconds off his entry time to reach the final of the 200m backstroke, where he came in 10th.

Max Skehan, swimming the 15-year-old age group, had an outstanding PB in the 50m freestyle heat of 25.21 seconds to make the final of what is an extremely competitive event with all swimmers finishing within a second of each other. He also achieved a PB in the 50m backstroke.

Carys McNabb, at her first nationals, qualified in the 15 year old 100m butterfly where she swam into seventh place in her heat.

Next up for the swimmers is the New Zealand Short Course Championships in August.

An enthusiastic group of junior swimmers recently competed at the South Island Junior Championships in Nelson, with everyone achieving multiple PBs and Adam Brain coming third in the 100m breaststroke for 10-year-old boys. The swimmers taking part were Tia Hickman, Eloise Loe, Harriet d’Auvergne, Charlotte d’Auvergne, Annabel Rose, Riley Guildford, Herbie Hodson, Adam Brain and Charlie Salwey.

This group is now training for the Nelson Marlborough Short Course Championships in July and the Mako’s Junior Festival being held in Timaru in November.

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