Bree Anderson, 16, and Lilly Hall 13, with their medal haul. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Nelson swimmers shine at national champs

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Consistently waking up before dawn to hit the pool has paid off for a pair of Nelson swimmers.

Bree Anderson and Lilly Hall recently returned from the National Age Group Championships with a haul of medals for the Nelson South Swim Club.

The duo took home seven medals between them, as well as setting new records and personal bests.

A technology glitch meant Lilly was unaware she also became the fast 13-year-old in the country for 200m breaststroke.

“The touch pad and big screen was broken so I thought I was second, then when I got out of the pool they wanted to talk to me.”

Lily says it was an intense fight to the finish and an amazing feeling to get the gold.

“The girls swam really well, and we were all holding together. No one knew who was going to win.”

The Nelson College for Girls’ student also took home a brace of bronze medals for her efforts in the 50m and 100m breaststroke.

Lilly swam personal bests in every race as she eyes up nationals later in the year.

Bree, 16, also had a memorable outing in Wellington as she bagged three silver medals in the 200, 100 and 50m breaststroke and a bronze in the 400m individual medley.

“I usually struggle to make finals and my goal was to make top five.”

Those expectations were blown right out of the water as Bree would swim personal best times and set a regional record.

“It was pretty unexpected,” she says.

Bree credits her recent success to a new coach who worked a lot on her technique.

“Glen Findlay has done a lot for my stroke and helped change my mindset to a more positive one.”

Bree began swimming competitively six years ago following in the wake of her older brother.

“I would always be at his swim competitions and I got bored so decided to join in.”

The Waimea College student has a hectic training schedule which sees her up at 5am and straight to the pool.

While she says her eleven training sessions per week can be tiring at times, it is winning that drives her.

“Sometimes I ask, ‘why am I doing this?’ But in the long run it all pays off.”

Bree was pipped in all three races at nationals by Auckland swimming sensation Brearna Crawford who has qualified for junior worlds.

“I’ve got a long way to go before I’ll be threatening her.”

Her next chance will be at nationals in Auckland this October.