Sara Gane of Blenheim won two breaststroke events and Sam McKenzie of Nelson won the 50m freestyle as Nelson Marlborough swimmers contributed to a surprise win by the South Island Makos in the junior division of New Zealand’s first ever inter-zone swimming competition.
Ellie Rukuwai of Nelson South Swimming Club finished second behind Gane in the 100m breaststroke, while Phillipa Dwyer, also of Nelson South, joined the rest of the Makos team to win the final relay.
The new event, which mirrors the collegiate events in USA, featured the 20 best swimmers 15 years and under from each of four zones. The zones are Makos (Nelson-Marlborough, Canterbury-West Coast, Otago, Southland), All Stars (Wellington, Manawatu), Aqua Knights (Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay) and Harlequins (Auckland, Northland).
The zonal teams competed in a full national championship programme condensed into two hours of quick-fire team competition, concluding with a flying squadron relay featuring all 20 swimmers swimming 50m freestyle.
The Makos took a slender 18 point lead into the flying squadron relay, and after an early lead, lost the advantage to the Aqua Knights before edging back in front on the final two swimmers to claim the overall honours. The Makos also won the senior division meet later in the day.
Makos head coach Dave Prattley, from the AquaGym club in Christchurch, said the innovation of the Zonal Championship will add to the development of swimming.
“It’s been outstanding. Our team came together as one really quickly and that team oriented approach is an important development for a sport that is largely individual,” Prattley said.
“Our swimmers got up and had to be very competitive. Several of them got big personal bests today after five days of the national championships. So they were really competitive and fought hard which is what Swimming New Zealand will want to see from their top swimmers.”
Posted: Sat 05 Oct 2013