Wellington Hosts 2023 NZ Secondary School Swimming Championships
It was a great weekend of racing at the 2023 NZ Secondary School Swimming Championships in Wellington, with 595 swimmers converging upon the capital. With a blend of school chants and dancing mixed within the 6 sessions of racing, there was a great atmosphere as students loved representing their school.
There were some close finishes, and particularly in the relays and skins which brought the crowd to life. Every session had relays as a feature, and it was great to see some of the smaller schools combining to form opportunities for their students to participate. Some of the best relays included the girls U16 4 x 50m medley relay, where Rangitoto College stormed home in the final leg to win (2:03.80) ahead of Mt Albert Grammar and Palmerston North Girls. The 16+ boys 4 x 50m medley relay was also a nail biter, with Westlake Boys taking the victory (1:44.65) ahead of Wellington College (1:44.78) and Palmerston North Boys (1:44.83). The mixed 2 x 50m freestyle relay was bound to see some close finishes, and St Paul’s Collegiate didn’t disappoint by claiming the win (50.31) just ahead of Green Bay High (50.39) and Saint Kentigern College (50.49). The girls 2 x 50m freestyle was also close, with Diocesan School for Girls (52.56) just beating the younger team of Palmerston North Girls (52.65) onto the wall.
The random medley skins was a great spectacle too, with some close races showcasing skills across the strokes. In the U16 boys, Jacob Story (Avondale College) took the victory over Jacob Humphries (Westlake Boys) after drawing freestyle for the final 50m effort. Bridie Quayle (Villa Maria College) took the honours ahead of Kate Hurley (Wellington Girls College) with a strong butterfly finish for the girls. For the 16+ events, Ryan Peck claimed bragging rights over Kevin Zhang in backstroke, before Neve Tassicker (Wellington East Girls College) powered home in the last 25m to be ahead of Isabelle Gibson (Baradene College) in freestyle.
Whilst we can’t report on every age group and event after a great weekend of swimming, we did want to celebrate some performances that broke some records during the competition. Asher Smith-Franklin (Te Aho O Te Kura Pounamu) broke five NZ Open Records in an impressive display of skills across all strokes. He broke the S14 100m backstroke (1:05.39) and S14 100m freestyle (57.71) in the same session, before dipping under 30 seconds in the S14 50m backstroke for the first time (29.88). Asher put together all four strokes in a super 200m individual medley (SM14 – 2:19.75) and rounded out the weekend with a S14 50m freestyle record (25.83). Asher’s swims across the week helped his school take home the Top Para School.
Rylee Sayer (Hauraki Plains College) also continued her swimming development with three NZ Open Records, breaking the 50m breaststroke (SB14 – 48.91), 100m freestyle (S14 – 1:10.58) and 50m freestyle (S14 – 31.79).
Jacob Story (Avondale College) also had a great week in the pool, breaking the 15 years NZ Record in the 50m butterfly (24.92).
Top School Awards
There was plenty of competition in the battle for the top school awards. The closest battle was in the Top Co-Ed School category, with Rangitoto College (547 points) edging ahead of ACG Parnell College (540 points) after some good results in the double points skins event. For the Top Girls School, Palmerston North Girls had a commanding lead to claim the trophy (574 points). Westlake Boys retained bragging rights in the Top Boys School (854 points) and Top Boys Relay School (218 points). Te Aho O Te Kura Pounamu won the Top Para School (260 points), whilst St Peter’s School (Cambridge – 105 points) edged out Mt Albert Grammar (93 points) and Rangitoto College (81 points) to win the Top Girls Relay School.
We were fortunate to offer three special awards thanks to our event partners.
The Bayleys’ #AltogetherBetter award was presented to the Gisborne Schools Combined group, with students from three schools (Gisborne Girls High, Gisborne Boys High and Te Kura Kupapa Nga Uri a Maui) worked together across the week where they travelled and stayed together, as well as making combined relay teams so there were lots of participation opportunities for the students. Congratulations to the schools, parents, coach and swimmers for being Altogether Better and to Bayleys for this award.
Caltex Good Sports Award
The Caltex Good Sports Award was presented to Murray Smith, a teacher from Lindisfarne College. Murray was nominated by neighbouring school Napier Girls’ High in recognition of his exceptional dedication and unwavering commitment as the coach/manager of the Lindisfarne Swim Team.
Murray’s tireless efforts and outstanding qualities as a coach and mentor have not only transformed the lives of countless young swimmers but have also elevated the entire profile of swimming at Lindisfarne College. Murray’s unwavering belief in his swimmers creates an atmosphere of confidence, resilience, and a supportive environment.
Murray is quick to extend a caring hand and a listening ear, ensuring his athletes know they are not just part of a team, but a close-knit family. This nurturing approach fosters a sense of belonging, which has resulted in lifelong friendships among team members and a deeper sense of unity within the Lindisfarne Swim Team.
He is more than just a coach; he is a mentor, a friend, and an inspiration to all who have the privilege of knowing him. Congratulations Murray and thank you to Caltex for this award.
NZ Carbon Farming Award – Sustainability Tips & Tricks
Marlborough Girls College took home this award as their school for their three key actions the school has taken to raise awareness about global environmental issues whilst making changes in their local community. They have an environmental team of students who share awareness of the issues by having environmental awareness days at school and doing community projects (eg: like planting native trees). Secondly, they also encourage students to bike, walk and/or carpool to and from school. Thirdly, the school runs an Environmental Sustainability Course for students which is based around 5 areas - conservation, farming, marine, school and viticulture. Congratulations to Marlborough Girls College for the enacting these initiatives and thanks to NZ Carbon Farming for the award.