2023 Apollo Projects NZ Age Group Swimming Championships: Day Five Wrap
It was a jam-packed final day at the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Age Group Swimming Championships. What an excellent way to complete the first national event at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Aquatic Centre, with a Dive Start clinic delivered for 40 kids in the local community hosted by Aquablacks Lewis Clareburt, Mya Rasmussen, Matt Hutchins and Willy Benson. The autograph and photo session directly afterwards was busy, before the racing did all of the talking. The night had a combination of everything with some outstanding swimming before closing with a popular new relay concept that had the swimmers waiting in anticipation.
Selection Standards, NZ Records & More
Isabelle Gibson (United) had one of the standout moments of the night, when she achieved the selection criteria for the World Aquatics Junior Championships in the girls 100m backstroke (1:02.16). Splitting at halfway just under the 30 seconds mark, she came home strong to comfortably drop under the 1:02.80 standard as our second swimmer for this event, joining Milan Glintmeyer (Kiwi West). Congratulations Isabelle, superb swim.
Monique Wieruszowski (Aquabladz – 30.67) continued her eye-catching couple of weeks in the pool to further lower her 50m breaststroke NZ record by 0.2 seconds. After a great start, Wieruszowski powered through the lap on route to securing the 7th fastest time in the world this year. Having qualified for the World Aquatics Championships already, she has now reduced the NZ record by 0.54 seconds in the past 2 weeks. A super impressive swim, congratulations Monique.
Melissa Cowen (North Shore – 32.26) broke the 18 years NZ age record in the girls 50m breaststroke to continue her outstanding breaststroke results over the past couple of weeks. She had a great race with Lanihei Connolly (TBSS Central City - 32.67).
Cameron Karpik (United – 30.38) also reduced the 14 years NZ age record by 0.07 seconds, having made a slight improvement from his heat swim.
There has been no stopping Asher Smith-Franklin (North Shore – 4:39.21) who continued on his record-breaking spree to claim the S14 NZ record in the boys 400m freestyle multi-class.
Rylee Sayer (Matamata – 5:42.53) set the S14 NZ 16 & under age record in the girls 400m freestyle multi-class to wrap up her excellent week of swimming.
Fresh off his recent Instagram video content “Finn with a Fin” (check out Swimming NZ’s Instagram account), Finn Harland (Capital – 56.17) was dominant in the boys 100m backstroke to achieve the qualifying standard for the second week in a row.
Epic Race Finishes
The night commenced with a nail biter in the boys 100m backstroke 13 years, with Tian Donald (Coast – 1:05.13) just ahead of Seb Segers (United – 1:05.24). It continued in the 14 years age group, with Max Cave (Aquabladz – 1:00.51) edging out Ariel Muchirahondo (Swim Rotorua – 1:00.78). For the girls, the 17-18 year was a tight battle between TBSS Central City, with all three medalists from the club. Tess Whineray (1:03.19) just beat teammate Liv Peebles (1:03.25) to the wall.
The other epic finish of the night came at the end of the girls 1500m freestyle, where Keira Allott (Mt Maunganui - 17:06.90) and Brooke Bennett (Vikings - 17:07.21) pushed each other along the full distance. With 100m to go, Bennett looked like she had done enough to claim the 17-18 years age group title, but Allott dug deep to pull alongside as they came under the flags and claim the victory by 0.31 seconds. Both swimmers had left it all in the pool in a terrific race - well done girls.
The Relay Everyone Was Talking About
The addition of a 4 x 50m freestyle champions relay to conclude the championships was well received, with Swimming NZ laying down the challenge for limited to 19 self-picked teams to beat their “Olympic Hopefuls” team in the relay filled with staff Olympians. The teams submitted had a mixture of swimmers from across the country who dressed up, swam with their coaches, and displayed the camaraderie and friendships that have been created across the event. From performing a manu upon entry to flashy walkout moves and team dress ups, the relay encapsulated everything that has made the event a positive. Thanks to all the teams involved, we’ll have to try again next year!
Asher Smith-Franklin took home the Hansells Trophy for breaking an existing age group record by the greatest percentage margin in the 100m freestyle multi-class.
Monique Wieruszowski was awarded the Life Member Trophy for achieving the most outstanding swimmer for her NZ record in the 50m breaststroke earlier in the evening.
Auckland took home the War Memorial Trophy as the top region at the championships, and the Freyberg Shield for the combined top region across the two events.
The top club points were taken out by reigning champions United (2258 points) ahead of Coast (1398) and North Shore (1242).
World Aquatics Junior Championships
At the end of the evening, we also recognized that swimmers that had achieved the selection standards for the upcoming World Aquatics Junior Championships to be held in Netanya, Israel, from 4 – 9 September 2023.
We are excited to congratulate the seven swimmers who had achieved these standards across the past two weeks of national championships.
Melissa Cowen (North Shore) – 100m and 200m breaststroke
Isabelle Gibson (United) – 100m Backstroke
Milan Glintmeyer (Kiwi West) – 100m backstroke
Finn Harland (Capital) – 100m backstroke
Summer Osborne (North Shore) – 200m freestyle
Zoe Pedersen (Coast) – 50m freestyle
Monique Wieruszowski (Aquabladz New Plymouth) – 100m breaststroke
Thanks to everyone for participating, supporting and following the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Age Group Swimming Championships in Hawke's Bay. Congratulations to all of the swimmers for their efforts, and those who achieved personal bests. We hope you have enjoyed the week.