A TEAM of nine swimmers travelled to Dunedin last week to represent Southland at the New Zealand Division II Swimming Champs.
The team was made up of Bryan Bennett (15), Clark Jamieson (14) and Roxanne Le Roux (16), from Hokonui, Olivia Biggar (14), Tamaki Fukui (14) and Anita White (14), from Murihiku, Ella Dougherty (17) and Vivienne Shaw (13), from Orca, and Sualo Lafoga (13), from Waverley.
Several personal best times were achieved by the team during the week and five of the team made evening finals.
Ella Dougherty led the charge into the finals, making seven from her nine events. This resulted in a silver medal in the 100m butterfly and two bronze medals in the 200m backstroke and the 200m freestyle. These medals were backed up with fourth placings in the 50m and 100m freestyle, along with a fifth in the 100m backstroke and a seventh in the 50m backstroke. She also had a top 10 finish (10th) in the 50m butterfly. With Dunedin having an eight-lane pool, it is only the top eight qualifiers who make the final.
Clark Jamieson made two finals in the 50m and 100m backstroke and both appearances resulted in silver medals, a very good strike rate. He also finished ninth in the 800m freestyle. While not achieving top 10 placings in his remaining three events, he was very consistent with 11th placings in the 100m and 400m freestyle and a 15th in the 50m freestyle.
Sualo Lafoga had the frustrating situation of having three fourth placings in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle without being able to make the podium. The 200m freestyle was an evening final while the others were timed finals. She was also very consistent in her finishes with an 11th in the 50m freestyle, 13ths in the 100m freestyle and 100m individual medley and a 14th in the 200m individual medley.
Anita White made one final for the week in the 100m butterfly where she finished fifth. She was the second busiest swimmer in the team, having eight events.
Roxanne Le Roux also made one final, in the 50m breaststroke, finishing seventh. She also had 13th placings in the 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley, a 15th in the 50m butterfly and 20th in the 50m freestyle.
It will be interesting to see how the younger members of the team develop over the next few years.
Locally, the first of the SBS Wayne Evans Winter Meets will be held on Saturday at Splash Palace. There is a swimmer count of 96 for warm-up which is slightly higher than we have had recently so, hopefully, this is a sign of an increased interest in competitive swimming.