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The start of something extraordinary

Olympian tops qualifiers on opening day of national swim championships

Rio Olympian Helena Gasson (North Shore) topped qualifiers in the 50m butterfly on the opening morning of the Swimming New Zealand Short Course Championships in Auckland.

Gasson, the defending champion, clocked 26.83s in the 50m butterfly to head off Australian Emily Washer and 16 year old star Gabrielle Fa’amausili (United) in the qualifying heats in her first competition since Rio.

There was a delay in the programme after the storm that blasted the region took out the lighting at the National Aquatic Centre on the North Shore, with swimming resuming following a 15 minute break.

There will be a new champion in the women’s 200m freestyle with none of last year’s podium place getters in action.

North Shore’s Carina Doyle was the only swimmer under two minutes to top qualifiers ahead of clubmate Yeonsu Lee and Paige Schendelaar-Kemp (Howick Pakuranga) with plaudits to 15 year old Chelsey Edwards (SwimZone) who was fourth fastest in 2:01.07

Howick Pakuranga’s Daniel Hunter, second last year, was fastest in the men’s 200m freestyle heats in 1:49.14 from Michael Mincham (United) and Julian Weir (Aquabladz) with 0.7s separating the trio.

There was a top swim to outstanding age grouper Zac Reid, 16, also Aquabladz, who was fourth fastest in 1:50.27.

Hokitika’s George Schroder, a member of Swimming New Zealand’s high performance squad, was fastest in the 100m breaststroke in 1:00.48 ahead of Erik Kahr (United) and last year’s podium place getter Jacob Garrod (North Shore).

Porirua’s Bronagh Ryan was fastest in the women’s 100m breaststroke in 1:08.44 ahead of Australian visitor Emily Washer and Tasman’s Caitlin Delany who was runner-up last year.

The veterans were out in force in the men’s 50m butterfly with defending champion William Benson (Heretaunga Sundevils) topping qualifiers in 24.27s ahead of Orinoco Fa’amausili-Banse (Roskill) in 24.74, with the pair both representing New Zealand at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Teenage prospects Wilrich Coetzee (North Shore) and Hamish Trlin (Capital) were separated by just 0.3s at the top of qualifiers in the men’s 400m individual medley from Manawatu’s Cameron Blair (Kiwi West).

The evening finals session begins at 6pm, with the championships also the official qualifier for the FINA World Short Course Championships. The championships run until Thursday.

CAPTION: Helena Gasson. Credit: BW Media.

NZ Short Course Championships