An inspired group of Western Bay swimmers are back home after an unforgettable experience.
Daniel Shanahan, Liam Shanahan, Talitha McEwan, Kasha Stokes, Henry Scholes, Matthew Wagstaff, Te Manewha Rikihana and Renee Carey were among 36 swimmers aged 9-13 who attended the Jetstar Super Swim Squad camp in Auckland over Anzac weekend.
The talented young aquatic stars qualified for the squad by winning their age group at one of six events in the NZ Ocean Swim Series 2015-2016 season.
The coaching team was led by Dean Kent with double Olympic gold medallist Danyon Loader, Rio 2016 Olympic qualifier Emma Robinson and double national record holder Nathan Capp from Tauranga.
Papamoa's Sophie Stokes, mother of squad member Kasha Stokes, 11, says the camp was hugely inspirational.
"It is an amazing opportunity for the kids to hang out with swimming superstars. Swimming is such a hard and demanding sport and this is such a treat for them," she said.
Veronika McEwan from Western Bay, mother of squad member Talitha McEwan, 9, says it was Talitha's second time at the Jetstar camp.
"She was coached by Moss Burmester last time, who has become her sporting hero. She has kept in touch with him and he has remained a positive role model for her.
"We are not a sporty or swimming family and so her first camp experience opened a new world for her.
"This is an invaluable opportunity for children who haven't been brought up in super swimming families and we are very grateful."
Brothers Daniel Shanahan, 13, and Liam Shanahan, 10, from Bethlehem made it a family occasion to remember. It was the third time Liam had attended the camp.
"I was really proud to have two of my children at the camp this year. The coaches have been excellent and their quality of coaching has been second to none. To have insight into Danyon Loader, especially during an Olympic year, is incredible," proud father Tony Shanahan said.
The enjoyment and enthusiasm of the swimmers was replicated by the star-studded coaches.
"The kids' enthusiasm is contagious and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to spend time with them and their parents," Emma Robinson said.
"I hope my experience has inspired them to strive for the Olympics as I did when I was their age."
National legend Loader says "being able to pass my knowledge onto the squad members has been a real privilege for me".
"Seeing the passion that these kids have and the support they continue to receive from their parents is incredible. If these kids are the next generation of swimming Olympians, we are in good hands. I hope I have inspired them as much as they have inspired me."