Swimmers excel at NZ Opens

Sally McMath of Blenheim, Clara Foster and Eddie Neill of Nelson South Swimming Club, and Emmabeth Jensen of Tasman Swim Club swam against New Zealand’s fastest swimmers at the national swimming championships held in Auckland last week, at the meet serving as trials for the Commonwealth Games. 

McMath (16) had one of the best outings of her career, setting four regional age group records and three regional open records. She then backed it up with a top performance in an open water meet on Saturday, winning the 1 km event.

The 14-year-old Foster, who attends Nelson College for Girls, finished 11th in the 50m women’s breaststroke, a race broadcast on Sky Sport, and 14th in the 100m breaststroke. Neill (16), a student at Nelson College, competed in the 200m and 400m individual medley. He finished 17th and 18th in those events, respectively, and set a Nelson-Marlborough age group record in the 200 medley.

“It was pretty cool that Sky Sport was there,” Foster said. “And then after my race, I could look up and watch the replay on the big screen.”

A member of Clara’s club posted on Facebook: “Great to see a Nelson South cap on Sky Sport this evening... Well done, Clara!”

McMath was inspired to re-write the Nelson-Marlborough records for backstroke, setting regional open records for women in the 50m, 100m and 200m events. She also set a Nelson-Marlborough record for 16-year-old girls in the 50m butterfly.

“It was really eye-opening to see swimming at that level, and completely different to any other meet I’ve been to,” said McMath. “Everyone was so focused on the business end of swimming, and it really helped me to focus on my events.” 

Also competing in Auckland last week was Australia-based swimmer Emmabeth Jensen, who finished 5th in the 50m and 100m butterfly and 6th in the 50m freestyle. The 18-year-old, who formerly trained under coach Andy Adair when they were both in Dunedin, recently joined the Tasman Swim Club.

Foster, Neill and McMath will compete in the National Age Group Championships in Wellington the week of 29 April, along with a substantial contingent of teammates and others swimmers from Nelson-Marlborough clubs.

Posted: Sun 13 Apr 2014