For the first time ever, Tasman Swim Club will send five swimmers to the Australia Age Championship.
But it’s not a matter of throwing them in the deep end, most of the qualifiers are realistic final prospects.
The Tasman Swim Club team is made up of Sam McKenzie, Talya Harwood, Caitlin Delany, Sara Gane and Thomas Heaton. Both Sam, 14, and Thomas, 15, are ranked within the top ten in their respective freestyle events, and coach Andy Adair expects to be back for three or four nights of finals during the six day competition.
The Georgina Hope Swimmers Foundation Australia Age Championship will be held at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre from April 14. At the championship, Caitlin will compete in the female 15 100m breaststroke, Sara will race in the female 15 100m breaststroke and 200m breaststroke, Talya has qualified for the female 14 800m freestyle, Thomas will race in both the male 15 1500m freestyle and 400m freestyle, and Sam has qualified in five freestyle races; 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m and 1500m.
All of the competitors had to meet a qualifying standard to gain entry into the competition.
“What I’ve done in every centre I’ve been in is to use Australian Age Groups as my benchmark for two reasons. Firstly, the standard is very high, it’s one of the best age group competitions in the world. But secondly, this is an adventure. Some of these kids have never been to Australia so the thought of just going there itself is an incentive,” says Andy, who highlights that for the first time ever Nelson-Marlborough has four swimmers ranked number one in New Zealand at the same time.
When comparing the standard between the competition and the New Zealand champs, Andy says an Australian finalist would likely medal at the New Zealand event.
“It’s a much bigger competition at a much higher standard so when they come back they’ll be much more confident and relaxed. Confident, relaxed swimmers go a lot faster.”