ON August 16, a team of six Southland swimmers travelled to Auckland to compete at the 2021 Apollo Projects New Zealand Short Course Swimming Championships.
The team was made up of Murihiku swimmers Liam Devery, Regan Cross, Matthew Speight and Joseph Koroiadi, Orca swimmers Brooke Anderson, Jane Fox, Rhianna Short and Jackson Herrick, and Waverley swimmers Amelia Black and Sualo Lafoga.
Session one of 10 was held on August 17 with Southland swimmer, Koroiadi, competing in the 100m backstroke.
He got the team off to a good start, swimming a 0.51-second personal best time and setting a new Southland 15-year-old male short course record of 58.31sec by breaking his own record.
This swim had him finishing just outside the medals in 4th place and qualified him for a C final in session two.
The next swimmers to compete were Anderson and Fox in the women’s 100m backstroke multi-class.
Both swimmers swam just outside their entry times but both qualified for the session two final.
The next event on the programme was the 100m individual medley, with Koroiadi again making an appearance. His time of 1:00.29 was also a new Southland record, breaking the time of 1:01.55 held by Jack Corkery.
Fox and Anderson then raced in the women’s 100m individual medley multi-class. Unfortunately, Anderson was disqualified in this event, but Fox qualified for the session two final.
The 200m breaststroke was next with Devery, Cross and Short all competing. Devery was a fraction over his entry time with Cross swimming a personal best time of 2:30.03, qualifying for the session two C final.
Short swam a bit over her entry time but still qualified for the C final.
Last up were Herrick and Speight in the 800m freestyle. Swimming in adjacent lanes (5 and 6), Speight went in with an entry time a second faster than Herrick. At the 250m mark, Herrick took the lead from the swimmer in lane two and maintained the lead until the finish.
Speight swam his own race and finished strongly, closing the gap on Herrick, and overtaking a swimmer in lane two to finish second in the heat. Speight’s swim was a 5.31-sec personal best time and improved his own Southland record to 8:31.31. He was guaranteed at least a bronze medal as there were only two other swimmers in his age group left to swim in the session two heat.
Herrick’s time of 8:30.04 was a 7.34-sec personal best and gave him an outside chance of a medal as there were three swimmers in his age group left to swim in the session two heat.
Then, a positive Covid-19 case was announced in Auckland which resulted in the start of session two being delayed until after the Government announcement.
When it was announced New Zealand would move to Alert Level 4, the meet was postponed.
The team then had until 11:59pm on Thursday to get home in the 48-hour travel bubble.
This resulted in some rapid rearranging of travel for the swimmers by their parents and team management with all the team members leaving Auckland by a little after 10am on Thursday.
Subsequently, the New Zealand Short Course Championships were cancelled for this year, leaving the swimmers disappointed after the team’s good start.
For some of the team this was likely to have been their last time at a national meet as they finish secondary school and move on to tertiary studies or employment end their swimming career.