Event Preview - 2023 Northern Arena Invitational
New Zealand’s top swimmers are primed for the 2023 Northern Arena Invitational taking place at the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre from 10 – 12 November. The meet has 272 swimmers competing, with the meet the second and final opportunity for Kiwis to book their ticket to the 2024 World Aquatics Swimming Championships in Doha.
Five swimmers have already achieved qualification for Doha, following their performances earlier this year at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka. They are Lewis Clareburt (Club 37), Erika Fairweather (Neptune & Swim Dunedin), Andrew Jeffcoat (Club 37), Caitlin Deans (Neptune & Swim Dunedin) and Cameron Gray (Coast), with all except Andrew Jeffcoat competing this weekend.
The event is also a World Para Swimming sanctioned meet, with results one of four opportunities for Para swimmers to gain an automatic slot for Paris, by being ranked in the top 8 in their class between the 2023 Para Swimming World Championships and 31 January 2024.
Swimming New Zealand Olympic Programme Lead, Gary Francis, says the meet is a key event as athletes work towards the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year.
“We’re looking forward to a big weekend of competition as our athletes continue to work towards qualification for World Championships and for Paris. Athletes and coaches have been working really hard to prepare for this event and we’re hoping to see some impressive times in the pool.”
Check out the action to look forward over the three days of competition.
The first day is highlighted by the Women’s 400m Freestyle, with Eve Thomas (Coast) hoping to book her ticket to Doha up against Caitlin Deans. Eve Thomas will also back this up in the fastest timed final of the Women’s 1500m Freestyle, with two chances to make the team.
The Men’s 400m Freestyle sees Zac Reid (Neptune & Swim Dunedin) hoping to replicate his outstanding swim in this event at the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships when he marked his comeback from injury to make the team for Fukuoka.
Fresh off her silver medal at the 2023 World Aquatics Junior Swimming Championships, Monique Wieruszowski (North Shore) will be hoping to book her ticket to Doha in the Women’s 50m Breaststroke.
The Men’s 200m Backstroke has Kane Follows (Neptune & Swim Dunedin) hoping to make his first Aquablack team as the fastest qualifier, whilst Emma Godwin (Heretaunga Sundevils) will be aiming to achieve the same feat in the Women’s 200m Backstroke directly after.
Coast’s Cameron Gray and Helena Gasson are the headline acts in the Men’s and Women’s 100m Butterfly respectively, with Hazel Ouwehand (Phoenix Aquatics) also hoping to confirm her spot on an Aquablacks team for the third year in a row.
Despite already qualifying, all eyes will be on Lewis Clareburt in the Men’s 400m Individual Medley as a part of his preparation towards Doha.
The end of session on the second day will be the one not to miss, with the Women’s 200m Freestyle seeing Erika Fairweather’s only event of the weekend as she hopes to have help qualify a Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle team. Eve Thomas, Caitlin Deans and Summer Osborne (North Shore) will be looking to retain their spot on the team, with Laticia-Leigh Transom (Ice Breaker Aquatics) returning to NZ for the first time in a while in good form. South Africa’s Rebecca Meder, who has recently moved to North Shore, will also be hoping to push the girls along in a fast race.
The Men’s 50m Freestyle looks set to be a fast one, with Cameron Gray and Carter Swift (Club 37) going head-to-head in a battle of the sprinters.
The Men’s 100m Breaststroke has Josh Gilbert (Club 37) looking to qualify for Doha, whilst also hoping to help form a team for the Men’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay.
The Men’s 200m Freestyle is a battle of the Zac’s, with Zac Reid and Zac Dell (Club 37) going in as the two fastest qualifiers, with Australian Edward Sommerville also amongst it on the entry times.
Gabi Fa’amausili (Club 37) will be hoping to return to the national team in the Women’s 50m Backstroke, heading in as the fastest qualifier. She will also feature in the Women’s 50m Freestyle, with Coast teammates Chelsey Edwards and Zoe Pedersen the fastest seeds.
Cameron Gray and Carter Swift will be at it again in the Men’s 100m Freestyle, in which Swift hopes to join Gray as the second swimmer to qualify for Doha in this event.
The Women’s 800m Freestyle will be another great contest, with Caitlin Deans and Eve Thomas going head-to-head again. Earlier this year, both swimmers achieved the qualifying time for Fukuoka alongside Erika Fairweather, with only two of them permitted to race the event due to World Aquatics rules. With Erika Fairweather having already made the time in Fukuoka, it promises to be a great battle again between these two.
Laticia-Leigh Transom is the fastest qualifier in the Women’s 100m Freestyle, hoping to add to her 2018 Commonwealth Games appearance for New Zealand on the Gold Coast.
Helena Gasson will be hoping to book her spot in the Women’s 100m Backstroke, with Laticia-Leigh Transom ready to go stroke for stroke.
Lewis Clareburt will be back in the pool for the Men’s 200m Individual Medley, with Gina McCarthy (Hamilton Aquatics) ready for battle with Rebecca Meder in the Women’s event.
Louis Clark (North Shore) will be hoping to make his first Aquablack team in the Men’s 800m Freestyle.
NZ Record holder Hazel Ouwehand will be hoping to replicate her swim in the Women’s 50m Butterfly from earlier this year at the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships.
Zac Dell will be in the pool for the Men’s 100m Backstroke as part of his quest to qualify for his first Aquablacks team.
As this event is not being livestreamed, we encourage you to attend to cheer on the swimmers and help them qualify their spot for Doha. Heats sessions start at 9.25am and finals from 5.25pm, with free entry for spectators. The Aquablacks team will also be announced at the end of the final session.
If you can’t attend in person, stay up-to-date with the action on our social media accounts.