Promising Wanaka swimmer Sophie Fairbairn won a gold medal in
the 50m breaststroke in Wellington on Tuesday night.
Fairbairn (13), the only Wanaka swimmer competing at the New
Zealand division 1 age group championships, swam a personal
best time of 35.52sec to win the girls aged 12 and 13 final.
It was an Otago record.
The Mt Aspiring College pupil has made rapid progress over
the last two years under the direction of coach Fi Hezinger.
A year ago, she won three silver medals in the breaststroke
events at the New Zealand junior championships. Over the last
12 months, she has improved her time by a significant
''Sophie has huge potential,'' Hezinger said yesterday.
''She has the right mentality and personality and could go as
far as she wants to in swimming.''
Hezinger is confident Fairbairn will also reach the podium in
the 100m and 200m breaststroke events.
Fairbairn was one of three Otago swimmers who won gold medals
on the first night of the championships.
Oscar Pedersen (Oamaru) won gold in the boys aged 14 200m
butterfly in 2min 18.46sec. He came into the championships
with a qualifying time of 2min 23.05sec and reduced it to
2min 19.79sec in the heats.
It was a superb effort by Pedersen, who is coached by Shane
Jones, to reduce his time by 4.59sec.
The other gold medal was won by Jeremy Hopkins (Neptune) in
the 50m backstroke in 29.63sec. It was also a personal best
Andrew Trembath (Neptune) won silver medals in the boys aged
16 50m backstroke (27.20sec) and 200m individual medley (2min
Caitlin Deans (Waves) was runner-up in the girls aged 12 and
13 400m freestyle in 4min 36.47sec. Campbell Pearson
(Alexandra) won a silver medal in the boys aged 14 50m
backstroke (29.69sec). Courtland Ellis (Taieri) was third in
the boys aged 13 200m individual medley in 2min 24.65sec.