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Olympian heads swim team to Oceania Championships

A 31-strong New Zealand swim team will contest the 11th Oceania Championships in Suva, Fiji starting on Monday.

Fourteen nations are expected to compete, starting with the 5km Open Water race on Monday, the pool competition at the Damodar National Aquatic Centre in Suva from Tuesday 21 to Friday 24 June, with the 10km open water on Saturday 25 June.

The team is led by Rio Olympics-bound Helena Gasson (North Shore), who is using the championships as a key competition phase in her preparations before heading to USA for the final preparation camp next month.

Gasson broke the New Zealand record in the 100m butterfly on her way to winning the national title with a time of 58.51. She also won the 400m individual medley and 50m butterfly and set a national open record in the 200m butterfly heats.

Also in the team is two-time world junior 50m backstroke champion Gabrielle Fa’amausili who also won a bronze at the Youth Olympics along with a gold medal and two silvers at the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Wilrich Coetzee won two gold medals at Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa 2015, and was a finalist at the World Junior Championships.

Daniel Hunter won the 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke at the New Zealand Championships where he broke the national record for both the 50m and 100m freestyle in the heats.

Bayley Main, on scholarship at the University of Florida, won two medals at the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Several others have international experience with Jacob Garrod competing at the 2014 Youth Olympics in China while Andrew Trembath raced at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii the same year.

Yeonsu Lee and Annabelle Paterson both competed at the World Junior Championships last year in Singapore and the Commonwealth Youth Games, while Monique King raced at last year’s World University Games.

In the open water swimming Claudia Ashby, Matthew Scott and Jackson Dawson will be using the competition as part of their preparation before heading to the first FINA World Junior Open Water Championships in the Netherlands next month.

New Zealand edged Australia for wins 21 to 19 at the last Oceania Championships in Auckland two years ago.

The team is:

Female: Claudia Ashby (Fairfield), Jacey Cropp (North Shore), Carina Doyle (North Shore), Ellie Eastwood (Northwave, Whangarei), Gabrielle Fa’amausili (United, Auckland), Chloe Francis (North Shore), Helena Gasson (North Shore), Stefannie Gillespie (Zenith, Otago), Monique King (North Shore), Yeonsu Lee (North Shore), Millie Macdonald (Parnell, Auckland), Annabelle Paterson (United), Emily Rennell (Jasi, Christchurch), Bronagh Ryan (Porirua City), Mary Tate (United), Sammy Winward (Aquagym, Christchurch)

Male: Troy Balvert (Aquabladz, New Plymouth), Corneille Coetzee (North Shore), Wilrich Coetzee (North Shore), Jackson Cropp (North Shore), Jackson Dawson (Waterhole, Auckland), Jacob Garrod (North Shore), Blake Gunn (Kiwi West Aquatics, Palmerston North), Daniel Hunter (Howick Pakuranga), Matt Hyde (Matamata), Bayley Main (Howick Pakuranga), Jonathan Rutter (Roskill, Auckland), Andrew Trembath (Neptune, Dunedin), Matthew Scott (Enterprise, Gisborne); David van der Star (Coast, Auckland), Julian Weir (Aquabladz).

CAPTION: Helena Gasson in action (Credit: BW Media)

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