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Swimmers Ready to Rumble in Hawke's Bay

Event Preview of the 2024 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships

New Zealand’s top swimmers are ready to lay it all on the line as they compete for Olympic and Paralympic qualification and the national title in Hawke’s Bay next week.


More than 180 athletes, including World Champions Lewis Clareburt, Erika Fairweather and Cameron Leslie, are set to race at the 2024 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships, to be held at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Aquatic Centre from Tuesday 9 to Saturday 13 April.


The event is the final opportunity for New Zealand’s top swimmers to qualify for Paris.


Swimming New Zealand’s Olympic Programme Lead Gary Francis says the event will showcase world class swimming as athletes chase their Olympic dreams.


“This is our biggest New Zealand based event in a four-year cycle,” said Francis. “Athletes will be doing everything they can to hit those qualification times for Paris.”


Francis is calling on Hawke’s Bay locals to support the athletes as they put it all on the line.


“It’s the first time we’ve ever had this event in the Hawke’s Bay and it comes off the back of our most successful World Aquatics Championships in history, and a strong Para Swimming World Championships last year."
“It’s going to be high octane, intense racing. The atmosphere is going to be something else. The view from the grandstand is great and I’d really love to see a strong local community coming out to support our athletes and cheer them on."
“With world-class athletes such as Erika Fairweather, Lewis Clareburt and Cameron Leslie competing, and Hawke’s Bay local Emma Godwin hoping to qualify for Paris, it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.”

Newly crowned 400m Individual Medley World Champion Lewis Clareburt will be one of the athletes to watch during the meet.


“I’m really excited for a huge Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships. It’s always special when Olympic qualification is on the line and I think we’re going to see some pretty amazing performances.”


Heats will be held from 10am each morning, with finals held in the evening from 5.40pm.


In addition to the racing, Swimming New Zealand, Swimming Hawke’s Bay Poverty Bay and the Hawke's Bay Regional Aquatic Centre are offering an array of activities and initiatives to benefit the local community.

Swimming NZ’s Head of Participation & Events Dale Johnson says it’s exciting to be offering legacy opportunities alongside hosting national events.


“We have some great opportunities for the community to get involved in the water during the championships to help them Unlock Their Greatness. From Have-a-Go meets and skills clinics to signing sessions with our Aquablacks and aqua aerobics classes for all ages, there is something to help the community be engaged and enjoy the water.”


Erika Fairweather and Lewis Clareburt will be in action across the week as they fine tune their preparations for Paris. Fairweather will hope to again break the 4-minute mark in the 400m Freestyle on day three (Thursday 11 April), with Clareburt's in action in his key races on the Friday (200m Butterfly) and Saturday (200m Individual Medley).


Reigning World Champion and 3-time Paralympic Champion Cameron Leslie will be hoping to qualify for his fourth Paralympic Games as he takes to the pool in the Men’s 50m Freestyle Multi-Class (Saturday) and Men’s 100m Freestyle Multi-Class (Friday).


Hawke’s Bay local Emma Godwin will be aiming to qualify for her first Olympic Games and pinnacle New Zealand team as she takes on the Women’s 200m Backstroke on Friday 12 April.

The Women's 200m Freestyle on day two (Wednesday 10 April) will be one to mark in your calendars, with spots for the Women's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay team up for grabs.


Some of the must watch races include:


Day 1 – Tuesday 9 April

  • Women’s 1500m Freestyle (Eve Thomas & Caitlin Deans)

  • Women’s 100m Backstroke Multi-Class (Paralympic Champion Tupou Neiufi)

  • Men’s 100m Backstroke Multi-Class (Comm Games Silver Medallist Jesse Reynolds)

  • Men’s 100m Breaststroke Multi-Class (Comm Games Gold Medallist Josh Willmer)


Day 2 – Wednesday 10 April

  • Women’s 200m Freestyle (World Champs Silver Medallist Erika Fairweather and 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay spots)

  • Men’s 100m Backstroke (World Champs Semi Finalist Andrew Jeffcoat & Zac Dell)

  • Women’s 100m Backstroke (Rio Olympian Helena Gasson)

  • Women’s 100m Breaststroke (World Juniors Silver Medallist Monique Wieruszowski)


Day 3 – Thursday 11 April

  • Women’s 400m Freestyle (World Champion Erika Fairweather & World Champs Finalist Eve Thomas)

  • Men’s 400m Freestyle (Tokyo Olympian Zac Reid & Lewis Clareburt)

  • Men’s 100m Butterfly (Cameron Gray)


Day 4 – Friday 12 April

  • Men’s 100m Freestyle (NZ Record Holder Cameron Gray, Carter Swift & Taiko Torepe-Ormsby)

  • Men’s 100m Freestyle Multi-Class (World Champs Silver Medallist Cameron Leslie)

  • Men's 200m Backstroke (Andrew Jeffcoat & Kane Follows)

  • Women’s 200m Backstroke (Hawke’s Bay Local Emma Godwin)

  • Men’s 200m Butterfly (World Champs Finalist Lewis Clareburt)


Day 5 – Saturday 13 April

  • Women’s 800m Freestyle (World Champs Bronze Medallist Erika Fairweather, World Champs Finalist Eve Thomas and Caitlin Deans)

  • Men’s 200m Individual Medley (World Champs Finalist Lewis Clareburt)

  • Men’s 50m Freestyle (Michael Pickett, Cameron Gray, Carter Swift & Taiko Torepe-Ormsby)

  • Men’s 50m Freestyle Multi-Class (World Champs Silver Medallist Cameron Leslie)

  • Women’s 50m Freestyle (Gaby Fa’amausili)


Three swimmers have achieved the qualifying standard for Paris at the recently completed 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, where New Zealand won its first two gold medals ever at the level. Fairweather and Clareburt for their gold medal winning performances, as well as Eve Thomas for her performances in reaching three World Champs finals in Doha.

Don't miss this opportunity to help our top swimmers Unlock Their Greatness by cheering them on from the grandstands. Heats are from 10am each morning and finals from 5.30pm each evening.

For those who can't attend in Hawke's Bay, catch all the action live and free on the Whakaata Maori YouTube channel.

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