Otago swimmers shine at national champs

Erika Fairweather at the national championships on Saturday. PHOTO: BW MEDIA
Erika Fairweather at the national championships on Saturday. PHOTO: BW MEDIA
Erika Fairweather rounded out her week with yet another national title.

The Neptune swimmer won gold in the women’s 800m, finishing with a time of 8min 21.67sec at the national championships at the Hawke’s Bay Aquatic Centre on Saturday.

Eve Thomas (Coast) won silver in 8min 22.27sec and Caitlin Deans (Neptune) claimed bronze in 8min 36.40sec.

Fellow Neptune swimmers Ruby Heath and Emilia Finer finished fourth and sixth.

Kiwi swimmer Kale Twist finished sixth in the men’s 50m freestyle and Oamaru swimmer Liam McGowan finished seventh.

Twist broke his own Otago open record with his time of 22.83sec.

Caleb Ludlow (Alexandra) finished eighth in the men’s 200m IM and in the men’s 50m breaststroke.

It was a big week for Otago swimmers with Fairweather, Deans and Kane Follows all being put forward for the Paris Olympics.

Otago swimmers are now competing in the national age group championships in Hawke’s Bay, which started yesterday.

Christchurch swimmer Taiko Torepe-Ormsby became the first New Zealander to duck under 22sec in the men’s 50m freestyle during the heats at the national championships.

He touched the wall in 21.86sec to go well under the Olympic qualifying time.

Lewis Clareburt pulled the curtain down with his own Olympic qualifying performance, powering to victory in the 200m individual medley in 1min 57.36sec, just 0.09sec outside his own national record set at the Tokyo Olympics nearly three years ago.

"That was a good swim for me. I haven’t come anywhere near that record in three years so I’m definitely heading in the right direction," Clareburt said.

Eve Thomas, Hazel Ouwehand and Cameron Gray were the other swimmers to post Olympic qualifying times, while Paralympic qualifying swims were recorded by Cameron Leslie, Lili-Fox Mason, Joshua Willmer and Jesse Reynolds.

Swimming New Zealand Olympic programme lead Gary Francis said he was thrilled with the results.

"Our swimmers have really stood up at this meet — they’ve been world-class and have left it all out there, and we’re incredibly proud of them.

"There’s been a fantastic energy in this pool and the future’s looking bright for swimming in New Zealand."

— additional reporting RNZ