Young swimmers bring back the goods

Wānaka Swim Club members (from left) William Schurink,  Hinato Watanabe, Luisa Palmer and Stella...
Wānaka Swim Club members (from left) William Schurink, Hinato Watanabe, Luisa Palmer and Stella Harper all recorded personal best times at the New Zealand Age Group Swimming Championships in April. PHOTO: MARY BRITTAIN
A small Wānaka Swim Club has returned home from the recent New Zealand Age Group Swimming Championships with a swag of personal bests, three medals and an Otago age group record.

This was the team’s first high-level group meet. 

Luisa Palmer, 14, collected the silver medal in 50m freestyle (27.91) and two bronze medals in the 50m butterfly (30.23) and 50m backstroke (31.59; also a new Otago age-group record in the female 14 years age group).

She and her team-mates William Schurink, 16, Hinato Watanabe, 15, and Stella Harper, 13, accumulated 22 personal bests between them, 

The five-day meet was held at the Hawke’s Bay Aquatic Centre from April 15-19 and attracted 651 athletes aged between 13 and 18 years from 80 New Zealand clubs.

International visitors also participated this year. 

Wānaka head coach Erika Ikeda said the high-level meet was great experience for her four young charges, who had given outstanding performances.

Harper was competing at her first national championships and had "phenomenal swims", while Hinato, also at his first national championships, took nearly four seconds off his best times, she said.

"I know the swimmers felt a lot of pressure and nerves during the national championships, but they performed exceptionally well under these circumstances. 

"It was the first time for us to go to the national age group championships as a team, and the supportive environment that the team created was amazing — cheering each other until losing their voice. 

"I am very impressed by the outcomes they achieved through this competition — not only personal best times but also physical and mental strengths. 

"We had a number of preparations toward this competition, and I would like to congratulate the swimmers on their huge achievements. 

"Well done Luisa, William, Stella and Hinato," Ms Ikeda said.

Other results:

William Schurink (male, 16 years): fourth 200m backstroke (2:11.94). Also competed in 100m backstroke (1:01.94) and 200m breaststroke (2:39.69). 

Stella Harper (female, 13 years): competed in 200m breaststroke (3:00.36), 200m backstroke (2:37.25) and 200m freestyle (2:18.14). 

Hinato Watanabe (male, 15 years): competed in 100m breaststroke (1:14.08) and 200m breaststroke (2:45.97).