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NZ Records Fall on Opening Night in Hawke’s Bay

Day 1 Wrap from the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Short Course Swimming Championships

Andrew Jeffcoat has continued his fine form on the opening night of the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Short Course Swimming Championships in Hawke’s Bay. The Men’s 100m Backstroke was hyped to be one of the best races of the night, and it didn’t disappoint with Club 37 teammates going out quickly, before a great underwater off the final wall propelled Jeffcoat into the lead in a time just outside his NZ Record (51.13). Zac Dell posted a personal best (51.49) to claim silver ahead of Cooper Morley (North Shore – 52.10).

Rio Olympian Helena Gasson (Coast) kickstarted her championships with two gold medals on the opening night. In the Women’s 100m Backstroke, Gasson led from start to finish in a time just 0.07 second outside of NZ Record, with Tess Whineray (TBSS Central City – 59.26) and local Emma Godwin (Heretaunga Sundevils – 56.64) both dipping under the 60 seconds for the podium.

Gasson was back in action shortly after, on route to winning the Women’s 100m Individual Medley. The World Short Course finalist in this event dropped nearly a couple of seconds from her heat swim, she posted a comfortable victory ahead of teammate Zyleika Pratt-Smith (Coast – 1:02.00) and Sarah Wilson (Vikings – 1:03.83), with Australian Lexi Harrison third fastest (ACU Blacktown – 1:02.04).

Zac Dell was also busy on night one, claiming the national title in the Men’s 100m Individual Medley. Dell posted a personal best in the heats to qualify fastest (54.29), and proceeded to further lower that mark in the final (53.69). Teammates Wilrich Coetzee (Coast – 54.15) and Sam Brown (Coast – 55.18) were also on the podium, joined by McAllister Clark (North Shore – 55.18) for a joint bronze.

Asher Smith-Franklin (North Shore) has continued his development, by breaking two NZ Records on the opening night. In the Men’s 100m Backstroke Multi-Class, the 17-year-old won the gold (1:05.34) ahead David Beck (Club 37 – 1:09.78) and Jack Bugler (Blenheim – 1:14.05). Asher returned to the pool in the Men’s 100m Individual Medley Multi-Class where he went even quicker, touching first (1:04.13) ahead of Bailey Conlon (Te Arawa – 1:13.07) and Rawiri Tristram-Brown (Dannevirke – 2:00.42).

The Men’s 200m Breaststroke saw multiple records tumble. Blair Helms (North Shore – 2:09.68) achieved a 5-second PB to claim gold, but it was Jackson Kennard (United – 2:11.88) who broke the 17 years NZ Age Record with his silver, with Sam Brown (2:12.31) the bronze. Jacob Story (Mt Eden) finished 5th in the final, breaking the 15 years NZ Age Record in the process (2:14.31). In the B final, Cameron Karpik (United – 2:20.58) also produced a 14 years NZ Age Record.

Zyleika Pratt-Smith claimed the national title in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke (2:25.45) ahead of Gina McCarthy (Hamilton Aquatics – 2:26.90) and Melissa Cowen (North Shore – 2:29.94).

Olympian Zac Reid (Neptune – 7:43.30) turned on the afterburners in the final 200m of the Men’s 800m Freestyle to pull away from Louis Clark (North Shore – 7:44.80). Having gone out stroke for stroke in the early stages to pull away from the rest of the field, with Brendan Visser (Coast – 7:55.74) getting on the podium for his first national open medal after dropping 13 seconds to be under 8 minutes for the first time.

Caitlin Deans (Neptune – 16:02.08) continued on from her top 16 performance in Fukuoka to comprehensively dominate the Women’s 1500m Freestyle. Teammate Ruby Heath (Neptune – 16:41.56) swam well under her entry time for silver, with Keira Allott (Mt Maunganui – 16:47.63) claiming the bronze. Australian Jacinta Essam (ACU Blacktown – 16:20.57) also won a visitor silver.

Ella Benn (Selwyn – 1:17.98) swam a big personal best in the Women’s 100m Backstroke Multi-Class, with Erin Knox (SwimZone Racing – 1:19.11) picking up the silver and Charlotte Murphy (Aquagym – 1:59.70) breaking the 16&U NZ Record to claim the bronze.

Rylee Sayer (Matamata – 1:32.77) swam well in her Women’s 100m Individual Medley Multi-Class.

The introduction of the new classifications S15, S18 and S19 was also a highlight, with their own combined finals taking place for the first time. Denver Xavier (Club 37 – 1:14.44) won the Men’s 100m Backstroke S19 event. Melissa Donoghue (Hamilton Aquatics – 1:53.49) won the Women’s 100m Backstroke S18, and the Women’s 100m Individual Medley SM18 (2:00.88). Jole Watkins (Pukekohe – 1:10.12) claimed the Men’s 100m Individual Medley SM19, with Luka Willems (Wharenui – 1:40.96) taking out the SM18.

The session was brought to a close with the 4 x 100m Freestyle Relays. For the Men’s event, Club 37 were dominant by nearly breaking the NZ Record (3:11.50) to finish ahead of North Shore (3:20.64) and Coast (3:22.14). For the Women, Coast claimed the national title (3:46.38) ahead of St Paul’s (3.49.43) and Mt Maunganui (3:50.14).

The age finals were held in the heats session in the morning, with some great swims earlier in the day. Jacob Story broke the 15 years NZ Age Record in the 100m Individual Medley (56.33) in a fantastic morning swim. Age group medals will continue to be awarded from the morning sessions throughout the week.

Don’t miss any of the action on day 2, with some more exciting racing coming up

50m Butterfly

400m Individual Medley

200m Freestyle

400m Freestyle Multi-Class


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