Day 5 Wrap from the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Short Course Swimming Championships
The final night saw some epic showdowns, with the best race saved for the Mixed 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay. All teams lead off with a male, with the 100m Freestyle champ, Carter Swift, going quicker than his individual time to give Club 37 the first lead (47.40) to give a healthy lead at the end of the first leg. Zac Dell (47.58) continued his fine form to open up a big margin at the halfway point. The race went up a gear as youngster Zoe Pedersen motored down Club 37 in her leg (55.52) to see Coast take the lead at the final changeover. It all came down to a battle between the 50m Freestyle champion from earlier in the night, Rebecca Moynihan (53.59) and Aquablack Helena Gasson (54.67). With 50m to swim, Moynihan had drawn alongside and brought it home in a thrilling win for Club 37 (3:27.53). Coast took the silver medal (3:27.76) and St Paul’s (3:33.41) took the bronze.
The Mixed 4 x 100m Medley Relay also lived up to the hype and action. Each team had different tactics when setting the order, with Coast A team leading off with Sam Brown (backstroke – 54.08). Wilrich Coetzee (breaststroke – 1:00.59) swam his team to the outright lead by halfway, with Helena Gasson (butterfly – 58.03) and Zoe Pedersen (freestyle – 56.27) holding off Club 37 to be the first team on the wall. However, when the results became official both Coast teams had been disqualified, leaving Club 37 (3:51.21) with the gold medal. North Shore (3:55.18) won the silver and Neptune (4:00.96) heading home with bronze.
The Men’s 50m Freestyle final was much anticipated, with race favourite Michael Pickett (Club 37) trying to cruise through the heats with a slow heat swim to only just sneak into the final in lane 9. It was a fast field spread across the pool, with Pickett and Carter Swift (Club 37) having the equal best reaction off the blocks. Zac Dell (Club 37) was with them at the turn, but it was Swift (21.86) who got the 50m and 100m freestyle double. Pickett (21.98) just beat Dell (21.99) to the wall. Club 37 took the top 5 in the Men’s 50m Freestyle, a feat that isn’t seen often.
For the Women’s 50m Freestyle final, Rebecca Moynihan (Club 37 – 24.80) proved her speed to take the crown. Local Emma Godwin (Heretaunga Sundevils – 25.18) got onto the wall ahead of Zoe Pedersen (25.30) to complete the podium.
The Men’s 200m Individual Medley was hard to pick a winner after the heats, with an open field and each swimmer behind the blocks believing they could take the crown. Kane Follows (Neptune & Swim Dunedin) lead the swimmers through the butterfly and extended his lead through his preferred backstroke. Sam Brown (Coast) began to make his move through the breaststroke leg, and narrowed the gap to 0.09 seconds into the freestyle. Brown (1:58.72) continued on to claim the 200m and 400m double, with teammates Blair Helms (North Shore – 1:59.69) and Louis Clark (North Shore – 2:00.25) finishing strongly to complete the podium.
For the Women’s 200m Individual Medley, Zyleika Pratt-Smith (Coast – 2:14.70) got off to a flyer to take the early lead in the butterfly, before Gina McCarthy (Hamilton Aquatics – 2:11.85) got to work in the backstroke and breaststroke, to set up a comfortable lead into the freestyle. The Australian Lexi Harrison (ACU Blacktown – 2:12.86) tried to close the gap during the freestyle, but it wasn’t enough. McCarthy claimed gold, with Pratt-Smith and Laura Littlejohn (St Paul’s – 2:15.32) closing out the podium for the Kiwis.
Brendan Visser (Coast – 15:16.56) continued his dominant emergence on the New Zealand swimming scene, with a commanding victory in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle. Having recently settled on the northern side of the Auckland bridge, he led from start to finish with great lap splits consistency on his way to dropping 28.61 seconds under his entry time to claim the 17-18 years and open national title. Youngster Hamish Giddens (Jasi – 15:44.03) also made a massive drop, swimming 33.03 seconds below his seeding to claim the 15 years title and silver. Luke Kuggeleijn (Nga Tai Tuatea a Taraika – 15:55.56) claimed the Kiwi bronze, producing a 45.38 seconds drop from his entry time. Nael Roux (Tahiti – 15.43.31) also took home a visitor silver medal.
The Women’s 800m Freestyle was highly anticipated earlier in the week, with the Swim Dunedin squad looking likely for a clean sweep of the podium. However, some late withdrawals opened up some opportunities for others to get on the podium. Ruby Heath (Neptune & Swim Dunedin – 8:42.58) produced a great swim to take the Kiwi gold, with Australian Jacinta Essam (ACU Blacktown – 8:32.10) the first onto the wall. Keira Allott (Mt Maunganui – 8:48.19) claimed the 17-18 years title and open silver medal, whilst Nina De Coster (St Paul’s – 8:56.88) claimed her first national open medal (bronze) alongside her 15 years title with a 5.09 seconds drop under her entry time.
The Men’s 50m Freestyle Multi-Class was a title battle, with Jack Bugler (Blenheim – 27.28) narrowly touching out Bailey Conlon (Te Arawa – 27.42) for the gold. Guy Harrison (Heretaunga Sundevils – 30.75) claimed the bronze. For the Women’s event, Ella Benn (Selwyn – 31.76) had a great battle with Rylee Sayer (Matamata – 32.05) and Brooke Anderson (Orca – 42.41). Melissa Donoghue (Hamilton Aquatics – 43.72) claimed the S18 title, with Chloe Gladwin (Whakatane – 32.10) the S19.
Asher Smith-Franklin (North Shore – 2:19.48) continued his NZ Record-breaking ways, this time in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley Multi-Class. It rounded out a superb week for the youngster, having broken his record set in the heats. Teammates David Beck (Club 37 – 2:31.11) and James Haydon (Club 37 – 2:38.96) rounded out the podium. Jole Watkins (Pukekohe – 2:35.72) continued his great form for the S19 title, with Luka Willems (Wharenui – 3:43.01) winning the S18 title.
It was great to have the Multi-Class relay return, with the 4 x 100m Medley Relay seeing the Virtus Boys (5:04.76) first to the wall, ahead of the 34 Point team (6:44.70).
The club points were a point of discussion around pool deck across the week, with some club rivalries looking for bragging rights. It came down to results on the final day to determine the Top Multi-Class Club, with Club 37 (394 points) coming from behind to beat Hamilton Aquatics (385 points) by just 9 points.
For the Top Age Group Club, United (1687 points) comfortably took this out ahead of Coast (1453 points) and Hamilton Aquatics (1137 points). North Shore (1032 points) and Phoenix Aquatics (1021 points) had a close battle for fourth.
In the Top Open Club award, Coast (978 points) established their lead early in the week to finish ahead of Club 37 (799 points) and North Shore (635 points). Neptune (583 points) finished fourth, with a gap back to United (281 points) in fifth.