2023 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships: Day Five Wrap
15-year-old New Plymouth swimmer Monique Wieruszowski (Aquabladz) has announced her presence on the international swimming scene, breaking a New Zealand record and swimming the eighth fastest time in the world this year in the women's 50m breaststroke.
Competing at the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships, the teenager was quick off the block to post a time of 30.87s.
The time also qualified Wieruszowski for the World Aquatics Championships, meaning she will now be at both the World Championships and World Juniors Championships later this year.
“This is a bit of a dream for me,” said Wieruszowski.
“I’ve been working really hard, training everyday and really working on my starts. I definitely didn’t think I was gonna go that fast, it means so much to me.”
Melissa Cowan (North Shore) was second and Lanihei Connolly (TBSS Central) third.
It was far from the only record set during an electric final night in the pool.
Commonwealth Games medallists Jesse Reynolds (Hamilton, S9), Tupou Neiufi (Pukekohe, S8), Joshua Willmer (Pukekohe, SB8) and Dame Sophie Pascoe (QEII, S9) formed a formidable team to set a massive 25-second New Zealand record in the mixed multi class 4 x 100m medley relay.
The quad racing home in 4:52:08s to qualify for the World Para Swimming Championships.
“That’s the first time we’ve ever raced as this team,” said Dame Sophie.
“These guys are the best in the world at what they do and I couldn’t be prouder to be here with them.”
Dame Sophie also took the national title in the women’s 50m free multi class in a time of 28.81s. Rylee Sayer (S14, Matamata) was second and Lili-Fox Mason (S9, Wharenui) third.
The men’s 50m freestyle record was also taken down, with Michael Pickett (Club 37) powering home in 22.11s.
The time locked in Pickett’s World Championships spot, prompting the 20-year-old to slap the water in celebration.
“This means the world to me,” said Pickett.
“I’ve been working towards this for the last four years, I’ve put in so much training to get to this point so it’s pretty special to get that record.”
Cameron Gray (Coast) finished second and Carter Swift (Club 37) third.
Tokyo Olympian Erika Fairweather (Neptune) was also in action, qualifying for her third World Championships event.
Fairweather led from start to finish in the women’s 800m free to post a time of 8:18.00s, just outside the New Zealand record.
Eve Thomas (Coast) also qualified in a time of 8:24.98s with Caitlin Deans (Neptune) joining as the third swimmer under the qualifying time in a time of 8:32.87s. The trio was thrilled, swimming into a group hug in the water.
“I’m absolutely stoked with how this week has gone for me, I couldn’t be happier,” said Fairweather.
“I feel like our New Zealand swimmers are massively improving on the world stage, it’s been such a good week.
“In that 800 we just had three girls hitting the qualification time which we’ve never had in New Zealand before so to be a part of that is pretty cool.”
Earlier in the evening Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Lewis Clareburt (Capital) hit another World qualifier, this time in the 200m individual medley in a time of 1:59.14s, wrapping up a successful meet with six medals across seven events.
“It was great to get another World Champs time and nice to go close to my PB,” said Clareburt.
“It’s been a great meet, I’ve done loads of events and it’s been really good to see how hard I can go. I’ve definitely got more work to do now and I’m really excited for Worlds.”
Luan Grobbelaar (Neptune) was second and Sam Brown (Capital) third.
In the 200m individual medley multi class Asher Smith-Franklin (SM14, North Shore) took the win in a time of 2:23.71s. Joshua Willmer (SM9, Pukekohe) was second and James Haydon (SM14, Parnell) third.
The women’s version of the same event Gaby Smith (SM10, Vikings) was first in a time of 2:41.42s. Ella Benn (SM9, Selwyn) placed second.
In the women’s 200m individual medley Gina McCarthy (Hamilton) took the win in a time of 2:15.68s, a full 5-seconds faster than she swam in her heat. Hope Chimel (Vikings) was second and Zyleika Pratt-Smith (Coast) third.
Larn Hamblyn-Ough (Coast) then set a huge 15-second PB in a gutsy swim in the 1500m freestyle, posting a time of 15:45:11s. Alex Dunkley (Roskill) was second and Cayuela Loann (New Caledonia) third.
Josh Gilbert (Club 37) was first in the men’s 50m breaststroke, followed by Josh Pickett (Club 37) in second and Wilrich Coetzee (Coast) in third.
In the men’s 50m freestyle multi class Paralympic Champion Cameron Leslie (S4, Whangārei) took the win in 37.38s. Asher Smith-Franklin (North Shore) set another record in the S14 class in a time of 26.86s. Guy Harrison (S8, Heretaunga Sundevils) rounded out the podium.
Chelsea Edwards (Coast) claimed her first title of the meet in the women’s 50 freestyle. The 21-year-old posting a time of 25.41s. She was joined on the podium by Rebecca Moynihan (Club 37) and Gabi Fa’amausili (Club 37).
The final record of the night went to Coast in the mixed 4 x 100m medley relay, with the team posting a time of 3:53.36s.
Swimming New Zealand Olympic Pathway Lead Gary Francis says it was a brilliant few days of competition.
“Coaches, athletes and the Swimming NZ team have been working really hard to get to this point and it’s fantastic to see the results coming through,” said Francis.
“We’re really proud of these athletes and we’re excited now to show what we can do internationally.”