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RECENTLY, the South Island Long Course Championships were held in Invercargill.

On the first day of the champs (Friday) Erika Fairweather swam her only event of the meet, the 400m freestyle. Fairweather swam what was, for her, a leisurely 4:16.69 in the morning’s prelim and then increased her speed in the afternoon’s final with a 4:10.18.

Fairweather had an entry time of 4:07.23 which she had swum as a 16-year-old in 2020, so having turned 17 at the end of December this time of 4:10.18 was a New Zealand long course age group record for 17-year-old females. I have not previously seen a New Zealand record broken at Splash Palace; it may be the first time this has occurred. Perhaps those with a longer involvement in swimming locally may recall the last time a New Zealand record was broken locally.

However, it did give me the opportunity as the referee for the session to sign off an application to have the new record ratified by Swimming New Zealand.

Luan Grobbelaar, of the Kiwi West Swimming Club from Palmerston North, is training in Dunedin prior to taking up a swimming scholarship in the United States later in the year, Covid-19 permitting.

This meant we were able to enjoy watching this talented swimmer. I did notice some Splash Palace patrons take time out from enjoying the spa pool to watch Grobbelaar swimming his number one event, the 200m breaststroke, on Saturday afternoon.

In the prelim in the morning, Grobbelaar had toyed with his opposition and let them keep close and then in the afternoon showed them a clean pair of heels as he bettered his morning’s time by 6 seconds.

The pick of the local swimmers was Joseph Koroiadi (14), of the Murihiku Swimming Club. Koroiadi is from strong sporting stock and is also a talented basketballer. Hopefully, Koroiadi will stick with swimming for the foreseeable future as he really is a promising talent.

A special mention from the weekend must be made of Andy and the team from Bluff Engineering and Welding who, at short notice, produced a special starting block for one of our local para swimmers, Brooke Anderson. This allowed Anderson to be able to start her 100m race from a dive and not from a push start, as she is unable to get on to the main blocks and, if she could, would not be able to balance on them.

The mounting boards for the timing pads make a 300mm high obstacle which Anderson would not have been able to dive over.

Katie Short, a blind swimmer from Dunedin, also made use of the new block as a means of being able to get up on to the main blocks. Removing obstacles for competing for these swimmers makes the sport much more inclusive.

As we were all catching our breath and preparing for the final day of competition on the Sunday, we heard the message delivered by the Prime Minister that we were going into Alert Level 2 as of 6am on Sunday.

While fully understanding the need for this, it did mean the cancellation of the final two sessions on the Sunday as there wasn’t enough time to rearrange the competition to comply with the restrictions.

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