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The start of something extraordinary

Swimming winners line-up for more success in finals

Three swimmers with national titles in their hands will attempt to add to their successful exploits on the penultimate night of finals at the New Zealand Open Championships in Auckland.

The championships that have attracted 230 swimmers from 43 clubs, double as the trials for the world championships, Youth Commonwealth Games and the World University.

Teenager Gabrielle Fa’amausili and Rio Olympians Helena Gasson and Bradlee Ashby have already set time under the qualifying standard for the world championships in the first three days at the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre.

Fa’amausili (United club), who qualified in the 50m freestyle, topped the heats of the 50m backstroke, the event in which she won the junior world title. The 17 year old clocked 28.74s which is only 22/100ths of a second outside the world championship qualifying time.

Gasson, 22, from the Coast club, was fastest in heats of the 400m individual medley in 4:48.26 and will chase the qualifying mark of 4:43.06 in the final. She has already set qualifying times in the 50m butterfly and 200m individual medley.

Ashby, 21, from the Fairfield club, broke his own New Zealand record in bettering the world championship standard in the 200m individual medley last night. He was only third fastest in heats of the 200m butterfly in 2:03.46, headed by North Shore’s Shaun Burnett in 2:02.14, as they chase the qualifying time of 1:57.28.

Taranaki’s Charlotte Webby, who has already qualified for the world championships in open water, topped heats of the women’s 200m butterfly in 2:18.39.

US-based North Canterbury swimmer Natasha Lloyd, who won the 200m breaststroke title, was fastest in heats of the 100m in 1:10.04, with the world champs time of 1:07.58.

Hokitika’s George Schroder topped qualifiers in the men’s 100m breaststroke heats in 1:02.16, while North Shore’s Corneille Coetzee led the heats in the men’s 50m backstroke in 26.17.

Top qualifiers in Para swimming action included in-form teenager Chris Arbuthnott (1:07.21s in 100m butterfly); Howick Pakuranga’s Tama Solouota (2:19.34 in 200m freestyle) and Southland’s Jane Fox (2:48.90 in 200m freestyle).

The finals start from 7pm with competition continuing until Friday. All heats sessions will be streamed live on Swimming New Zealand’s website with finals live on SKY TV.

CAPTION: Helena Gasson in action. Credit BW Media.

NZ Open Championships