More than 460 swimmers from as far afield as Hawke's Bay and Taranaki have flooded Mount Maunganui for the Bay of Plenty Championships at Baywave.
The three-day swimming carnival, which has been expanded because of the desire of other regions to prepare for national and regional competition, played out with clockwork precision in front of a packed house from Friday through Sunday.
Central to the drama were traditional clashes between crosstown rivals Greerton, Otumoetai, Mount Maunganui and Tauranga, with all clubs landing blows against the others in a series of showdowns.
Michael Pugh of the Greerton Club said the Bay of Plenty Championships had grown considerably since he was first involved.
"This is the third year that I've been involved because my daughter is 12 and she started when she was 10, and it's definitely grown in that time," Pugh said.
"We've got a big team here of 42 swimmers, which is probably our biggest ever team and the other big teams are Otumoetai - they had 44 swimmers I think and New Plymouth brought over a massive team of more than 50 swimmers."
Pugh said the Baywave pool was sufficiently deep at 2m to allow quick times, with its 10 lanes allowing for a condensed programme of events. That led to quick times in the pool, highlighted by Libby Bradley breaking the minute barrier in the 100m freestyle for the first time and Islah Kerr-Aim smashing her 1500m freestyle personal best by more than two minutes to take bronze.
The championships are seen as the natural build-up for both the national short course champs - to be held in Wellington from September 29 - and the national junior champs in Wellington in February.
Greerton will be sending contingents to both, with between 8-10 swimmers likely to make the trip down to the short course champs at the end of the month.