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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 1.83sec.
''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 time.
Andrew Trembath (Neptune) won silver medals in the boys aged 16 50m backstroke (27.20sec) and 200m individual medley (2min 09.89sec).
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.