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The start of something extraordinary

Olympian heads bumper fields for NZ swimming championships

A near-record 670 swimmers from 96 clubs will contest the New Zealand Short Course Swimming Championships in the North Shore starting on Sunday.

The five-day championship, to be staged at the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre, doubles as the official selection trial for December’s FINA World Short Course Championships in Canada.

The championship has attracted clubs from Whangarei to Invercargill, as well as 35 swimmers from Australia and one from Egypt.

While most Olympians are on a break after Rio, butterfly specialist Helena Gasson has returned to training and will compete. The 21 year old from the North Shore club began her push for Olympic selection after winning four titles in last year’s short course championships.

She was the joint most successful swimmer with double world junior champion Gabrielle Fauma’asili (United) with four titles each.

There will be interest in the form of Howick Pakuranga flyer Daniel Hunter, who will defend his 50m and 100m freestyle titles. The outstanding 22 year old missed selection to the Rio Olympics by just 4/100ths of a second earlier this year.

Other champions who will defend short course titles include 28 year old Beijing Olympian William Benson (Heretaunga Sundevils, Hawkes Bay), Andrew Trembath (Neptune, Otago), Wilrich Coetzee (North Shore) and Kate Godfrey (Neptune).

There will be interest in the development of a number of young swimmers who have gained success this year in the Australian Age Championships, the Junior Pan Pacific Championships and the Oceania Championships.

These include the likes of Josh Gilbert, 15 (Stratford, Taranaki) Hayley McIntosh, 17 (Northwave, Northland), Bronagh Ryan, 23 (Porirua), Jacob Garrod 20 (North Shore) and Corneille Coetzee, 21 (North Shore).

Rio Paralympic finalist Tupou Neiufi heads a contingent of developing Para-Swimmers for the meet. Neiufi from Howick Pakuranga club was a late addition to the New Zealand team, producing a personal best to finish seventh in the women’s 100m backstroke S9 in Rio.

Swimmers compete in their age groups in the morning heats from 9am with the fastest overall from the heats to contest finals from 6pm.

CAPTION: Helena Gasson in action. (Credit: Ian MacNicol)

NZ Short Course Championships