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Ouwehand Breaks NZ Record in Night of Close Races

Day 2 Wrap of the 2024 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships

Hazel Ouwehand (Phoenix Aquatics) has signalled big things to come by setting a New Zealand record in her first event at the 2024 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships.

The 24-year-old swimmer was on a mission in her Women's 50m Butterfly heat, becoming the first ever New Zealand woman to go under 26-seconds across the distance, flying home to finish in 25.88.

Ouwehand was feeling confident leading into the championships.

“It’s great to get that one in the books. I knew I was going to do it this morning, I was thinking 25.9 but I’ll take 25.88! I posted some great times at Auckland Champs a month ago and I took a lot of confidence from them, it was a good mental gain and now I’ve got to back it up tomorrow.”

Ouwehand backed up the impressive heat to win the final (26.11), with the silver medal going to Aquablack Laura Quilter (Coast - 26.58) with a personal best as she continues to improve since her return to competitive swimming and bronze to Zoe Pedersen (Coast - 26.61) who broke the 16 Years NZ Age Record in the heat and final.

With the 50m Butterfly not an event on the Olympic schedule, Ouwehand will have her first shot at achieving the Paris qualification standard tomorrow as she contests the Women's 100m Butterfly.

World Champion Erika Fairweather (Neptune & Swim Dunedin) got her campaign underway in the highly anticipated Women's 200m Freestyle. Whilst Fairweather had already hit the Olympic qualification time in the event at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships, she didn’t let that hold her back from two fast performances in heat and final, narrowly outside her NZ Record to again finish under the Olympic qualification time in 1:55.49.

“I’m stoked, any 1:55s swim is a good swim. I knew the other girls were going to take it out from the start so to have them there pushing me on was really special.”

The final was hotly contested with strong performances pushing the case for potential spots in the Women's 4 x 200m Freestyle in Paris. Laticia Transom (Club 37 - 1:58.42) went out like a rocket in the outside lane 1 to be leading at halfway, before holding on strongly to claim the silver medal. A great battle for the bronze medal ensued down the final 50m, with a bunch of four finishing within 1 second of each other. Caitlin Deans (Neptune & Swim Dunedin - 2:00.72) won the race for the wall ahead of Chelsey Edwards (North Shore - 2:01.00), Nikki Venema (Heretaunga Sundevils - 2:01.23) and Summer Osborne (North Shore - 2:01.62).

Tokyo 2020 Olympian Lewis Clareburt (Club 37) also made his championships debut, contesting the Men's 200m Freestyle. Competing in a stacked final which included three Olympians, Clareburt made a solid start before pulling away in the third 50m to finish 0.09 seconds off the New Zealand Record in a PB time of 1:47.18. It was the fastest time swum by a Kiwi across the distance in a decade.

Clareburt was chuffed with the performance in the final.

“I’m really happy to do a personal best. If I can do these ones right then my main events are going to be nice.”

Zac Reid (Neptune & Swim Dunedin - 1:48.90) showed his strong back-end form to surge home for the silver medal ahead of Rio Olympian Matt Hutchins (Wharenui - 1:50.29) for the bronze.

In the Men’s 100m Backstroke, Andrew Jeffcoat (Club 37 - 54.28) took home the gold medal in a time that was just over half a second above the Paris qualifying time. It was a grandstand finish in the final, with the top four all swimming under 55 seconds. Kane Follows (Neptune & Swim Dunedin - 54.46) had a great second 50m to move through for the silver medal, with Zac Dell (Club 37 - 54.65) getting the bronze.

Rio Olympian Helena Gasson (Coast - 1:00.51) was a cut above the rest of the field in the Women's 100m Backstroke. Gasson showcased her trademark underwater skills and dug deep in the last 25m of both the heat and final, producing a lifetime personal best in the heat before claiming the gold medal just outside the Paris qualifying time. Local Emma Godwin (Heretaunga Sundevils - 1:01.48) had the crowd on their feet for her silver medal, with Gabi Fa'amausili (Club 37 - 1:02.25) claiming the bronze.

Monique Wieruszowski (North Shore - 1:07.88) showcased her pedigree and signalled her potential for the future with nearly identical performances in the heat and final to be just outside her NZ Record. Brearna Crawford (Waitakere - 1:10.34) and Melissa Cowen (North Shore - 1:11.18) rounded out the podium having both returned from College in America for the championships.

Josh Gilbert (Club 37 - 1:01.26) claimed the national title in the Men's 100m Breaststroke ahead of Blair Helms (North Shore - 1:03.51) and Wilrich Coetzee (1:04.21).

Cameron Gray (Coast - 23.79) retained his Men's 50m Butterfly national title, with Christopher Elson (Vikings - 24.03) and Ben Littlejohn (St Paul's - 24.50) taking the silver and bronze respectively.

Chloe Gladwin (Whakatane) added another two national titles to her haul, having already won two yesterday. Competing in the Women’s 100m Butterfly Multi-Class, Gladwin set a New Zealand Record (S19 - 1:18.93) en route to the gold, with Lili-Fox Mason (Wharenui - 1:13.65) winning silver. Gladwin (2:23.82) backed it up in the Women's 200m Freestyle Multi-Class, out touching fellow S19 swimmer Quinn Pike (Hamilton Aquatics - 2:24.27) on the wall and Ella Benn (Selwyn - 2:31.18) rounding out the podium.

Denver Xavier (Club 37 - 1:08.50) took the honours in the Men's 100m Butterfly Multi-Class ahead of Asher Smith-Franklin (North Shore - 1:01.42) and Jole Watkins (Pukekohe - 1:10.59), while Finn Russ broke the S19 NZ Record (Selwyn - 2:13.15) to win the Men’s 200m Freestyle Multi-Class ahead of Jack Bugler (Blenheim - 2:09.79) and Jole Watkins (Pukekohe - 2:22.13).

The final event of the night was the Mixed 4 x 100m Medley Relay final, with Club 37 picking up the honours in 3:51.63s with their two teams in gold and silver after their B team (4:02.64) put in a blitzing final lap to beat North Shore (4:02.84) to the wall.

Full results from the day are available on Swimify

Upcoming Action - Thursday 11 April

Tomorrow will see Hazel Ouwehand attempt to hit the Paris qualifying time in the Women's 100m Butterfly. Erika Fairweather will race her favoured Women's 400m Freestyle, with Eve Thomas and Caitlin Deans promising to push her all the way. Zac Reid and Lewis Clareburt will be in close tussle in the Men's 400m Freestyle, with Cameron Gray setting his sights on the Men's 100m Butterfly.

The event is the final opportunity for New Zealand’s top swimmers to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Heats will be held from 10am each morning, with finals held in the evening from 5.40pm.

Don't miss any of the action with opportunities to watch from the grandstand pool side or on the Whakaata Maori YouTube channel.


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