Talented Nelson swimmer Sam McKenzie won a gold medal at the national age-group championships with a broken elbow.
The injury, which happened during a social game of basketball two weeks prior to the national put paid to his chance of qualifying for the Pan-Pacific swimming championships.
“I wasn’t meant to be playing sport two weeks out from competition, so I was a bit naughty,” Sam says. “Lesson learnt.”
Doctors told the 16-year-old he’d be out of action six weeks, but he returned in five days.
“It was pretty painful initially, but I knew I had to push through it and it’s good to know that I now can.
“There were voices in my head telling me I couldn’t do it and people were telling me similar things.
His coach Andy Adair says the whole performance epitomised the heart and guts his young swimmer has.
“Sam’s very competitive and hates to lose and he has the ability to train hard,” Andy says. “While he may not have achieved his goal of Panpac’s he now knows he can push himself through the pain barrier.
Andy says Sam was capable of going “well under the qualifying time in the 100m freestyle of 51.6 seconds and beating his personal best of 51.9 second in the process.
After qualifying second for the final, he produced a winning time of 53.1 seconds.
Ï slapped the water at the end of it – it was a release of emotion and frustration.”
“I had a plan, I was going to do 50.7 seconds at that meet and I felt I was on track
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Sam could have gone under the qualifying time by some margin,” Andy says.
“In my view he was producing some of the best swims of his career.”
Sam’s next big aim will be the New Zealand Short Course Championships in September but he will compete at the South Island Championships in Invercargill in August which is a qualifying event for the Australian state event in Canberra.
Sam would like to thank his sponsors Funky Trunks, Mountain Valley Honey and Fresh Choice Richmond.