2023 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships: Day Two Wrap
Erika Fairweather has put the swimming world on notice with a huge day in the pool at the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships.
19-year-old Fairweather (Neptune Swim Club) set a New Zealand record in the 200m freestyle in her heats this morning, before bettering it in the finals.
The Dunedin swimmer flew home in a time of 1:55.44s, clocking the fourth fastest time in the world this year.
“I’m absolutely stoked, that felt a bit rougher than this morning but that was to be expected,” said Fairweather.
“The puzzle pieces seem to be finally fitting together and I’m bringing out some massive swims which feels great.”
Eve Thomas (Coast) was second and Caitlin Deans (Neptune) was third.
Fairweather will be back in action tomorrow in the 400m free where she’ll be looking to become just the fifth woman ever to break the 4-minute mark.
Hazel Ouwehand (Phoenix Aquatics) was the other standout athlete of the day. The 23-year-old produced the race of her life in the women’s 50m butterfly, posting a time of 26.12s for a New Zealand record while also securing World Championships qualification.
Ouwehand couldn’t contain herself when she saw her time, slapping the water and yelling with joy.
“I’m ecstatic and puffed and tired!” said Ouwehand.
“It was a great swim, I just gave it hell and gave it everything I had and thankfully that was enough.
“It’s awesome to get that record, it’s the first I’ve ever had and hopefully it’s the first of many.”
Helena Gasson (Coast) was second and Aimee Crosbie (Coast) third.
In the men’s 100m backstroke Commonwealth Games champion Andrew Jeffcoat secured his World Champs qualification in the morning session but wasn’t going to let that hold him back in the finals.
The Club 37 swimmer posting a PB of 53.57s.
“It’s always nice to get a PB so I’m pretty happy with that,” said Jeffcoat.
“It’s great to get that World Champs qualification too, that takes the pressure off for the rest of the week which is awesome.”
Zac Dell (Club 37) came second and Kane Follows (Neptune) took bronze.
Three-time Paralympic champion Cameron Leslie (Whangārei, S4) was also in action, swimming in the 200m freestyle multi class.
The 33-year-old posted a time of 3:04.25s in the finals, having already secured World Para Swimming Championships qualification in the morning session.
“I’m certainly not conditioned for a 200m freestyle but I always enjoy the race. That gives me a good marker for where I’m at so I know what I need to do to launch forward,” said Leslie.
Asher Smith-Franklin (North Shore, S14) was second with a New Zealand record time of 2:08.41s. Jack Bugler (Blenheim) was third.
It was another impressive night for up-and-comer Smith Franklin, who also broke the 50m fly S14 record with a time of 27.94s
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Cameron Gray (Coast) took the win in the men’s 50m fly but was unable to beat his heat time of 23.27s which equalled his New Zealand record and secured his World Championships qualification.
“I didn’t get the finish I wanted tonight but it’s awesome to have world champs locked in now and I’m feel like I’m going to be able to have a great crack at worlds based off how I’ve been going here,” said Gray.
Christopher Elson (QEII) was second and Carter Swift (Club 37) third.
15-year-old Monique Wieruszowski then broke the women’s 100m breaststroke record which had stood since 2006. The Aquabladz NP swimmer raced home in a time of 1:08.74s.
“I definitely felt fast. It’s pretty awesome to get that record and it means I’m one step closer to going to the Olympics,” said Wieruszowski.
The time qualified Wieruszowski as well as second placed Melissa Cowen (North Shore) for World Juniors. Gina McCarthy (Hamilton Aquatics) placed third.
In the women’s 100m backstroke final 14-year-old Milan Glintmeyer (Kiwi West) took gold in 1:02.22s to secure her spot at World Juniors. Emma Godwin (Heretaunga Sundevils) was second and Zyleika Pratt-Smith (Coast) third.
Dame Sophie Pascoe (QEII) was also in action, racing in the 50m fly multi class she posted a time of 29.37s.
“That was faster than last years’ time which is awesome for me,” said Pascoe.
“I’m loving being back at nationals and I’m really excited about the possibility for us to qualify a relay team. We haven’t had the numbers before and I’d love to be a part of a team and see that for New Zealand.”
The men’s 200m freestyle saw a huge battle with the lead changing several times in the home stretch. Lewis Clareburt (Capital), Zac Reid (Neptune), Cameron Gray (Coast) battled it out throughout the race with Clareburt first in a time of 1:48.15s. Reid was second and Gray third with less than a second separating the trio.
Josh Gilbert (Club 37) was a cut above in the men’s 100m breaststroke, swimming home in a PB time of 1:01.20s. Blair Helms (North Shore) was second and Luan Grobbelaar (Neptune) third.
In the 200 free women’s multi class Ella Benn (Selwyn) was first in a time of 2:29.83s followed by Lili-Fox Mason in second and Rylee Sayer in third.
In the men’s 4x100m medley Club 37 stormed home for a dominant win in a time of 3:40.72. Capital Swim Club A was second and Coast Swim Club A was third.
In the women’s 4x100 medley Coast Swimming A took out the honours in a time of 4:11.82s. Hamilton Aquatics A was second and Neptune A was third.
Congratulations to all the swimmers involved in a huge second day of action at the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships. See below for a preview of what’s happening in the pool tomorrow.
Day Three Preview
The must-watch race of the meet will be the Women’s 400m Freestyle. Erika Fairweather recently swum 4:00.97s, which has her ranked as the eighth-fastest swimmer ever over the distance. If she can break the 4-minute mark, she’ll be only the fifth woman in history to do so.
The Men’s 400m Freestyle is also set to be a cracker, with Louis Clark, Zac Reid and Lewis Clareburt all entering times within one second of each other.
The Men's 50m Backstroke will be another exciting competition with Cameron Gray, Andrew Jeffcoat and Zac Dell having entry times faster than qualification time for Worlds, and Kane Follows just over.
In the Women's 50m Backstroke, Emma Godwin entered with a time just under the qualification standard and Hazel Ouwehand and Gabi Fa’amausili (Club 37) are less than a second behind her.
Cameron Gray and Lewis Clareburt, with multiple Commonwealth Games medals between them, will be ones to watch when competing in the Men’s 100m Butterfly with entry times close to qualification.
In the Men’s 50m Backstroke MC, Paralympians Jesse Reynolds (Hamilton Aquatics) and Cameron Leslie will be competing for the national title, while Asher Smith-Franklin will compete in the Men’s 100m Butterfly MC.
Aquablacks Gaby Smith (Vikings) and Lili-Fox Mason (Wharenui) will round out the individual races in the Women’s 400m Freestyle MC. Both Smith and Mason swam under the 5-minute mark earlier in the year at the Melbourne Para World Series which qualified them both for the Para World Championships.