No junior at Waimea College is faster in the pool than Sam McKenzie and in some events, no one ever has been either.
The 13 year old from Richmond won all of the seven races he entered in at the school’s annual swimming sports last Wednesday, breaking records in each one – even some that have stood for more than 30 years.
The events Sam won included the open boys’ six lengths freestyle, junior boys’ one length freestyle, junior boys’ one length backstroke, open boys’ one length butterfly, junior boys’ three lengths freestyle, junior boys’ one length breaststroke and the junior boys’ three lengths medley.
“It’s good knowing that I’ve got somewhere to go in my swimming. This is a good indication that I’ve got a path ahead of me so I just need to build on what I’ve done,” he says.
Sam was unaware of what the records were until just minutes before his races on Wednesday. After quickly going over them and comparing them to his personal bests, he was confident that he could break some, but never expected to break them all. “Before every race I’m always nervous but I wasn’t too worried because I was just there to enjoy it and have fun at the school sports.”
Sam, who specialises in 50m freestyle for his club, has been a competitive swimmer for two and a half years since moving from Palmerston North to Richmond.
He trains between 12 and 14 hours a week at the ASB Aquatic Centre with the Nelson Swimming Club. “The training certainly has helped.”
He says he specialises in the shorter events because it’s more enjoyable. “It takes a lot of minor details doing the short sprints. There is a lot of training. I started with the 50m and I’ve found that it’s improving the rest of my swimming.”
The key techniques have been rhythm and catching. “I just need to get everything in time but fitness is a big one as well.”
Sam is competing in the 13 year old boys’ 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 100m butterfly at the club nationals this weekend in Wellington. He has high hopes for the 50m freestyle after winning it last year as a 12 year old. “Going into it I’m ranked in the top five for all of the races so I want to try my hardest and hopefully come away with at least a medal in one of them.”