Melita sets sights on Sydney

By Cameron Leslie

Northland swimming star Melita Raravula has continued her rise up the swimming ranks after being officially selected in the New Zealand team to compete in Sydney next month.

Raravula, 16, has had a breakthrough year in the pool with her performances as part of the New Zealand national age group team at the Trans-Tasman Tri Series earlier this year. She impressed selectors at the Trans-Tasman series where she recorded four personal best times, which all set Northland Open records. She also set a further five new Northland Age Group records.

The young swimmer also competed at the NZ Open Championships which doubled as an Olympic trial. She made the A final in one event, placing her in the top eight swimmers in the country in that event.

The Pompallier Catholic College student's selection means she has the opportunity to gain international experience as part of a 17-strong team set to compete at the sixth Australian Youth Olympic Festival, Swimming New Zealand acting chief executive Mark O'Connor said.

The swimmers will form part of the overall team under the New Zealand Olympic Committee for the festival from January 17 to 20, which is expected to attract 1700 athletes under-18 years from 30 nations, competing in 17 sports.

The team is headed by national age group record-holders Abbie Johnston, Max Polianski, Julian Weir, Ben Walsh and Hokitika's George Schroder.

The group included 10 swimmers who represented New Zealand earlier this year across the Tasman in the Trans Tasman tri-series against Australia.

O'Connor said Swimming New Zealand has been part of the previous five editions of the Australian Youth Festival which offers Kiwi swimmers international competition as they look to bridge up to elite level.

"This gives them a taste of the level of competition required, the atmosphere of a major meet and the benefit of competing in an outstanding facility at Sydney Aquatic Centre," O'Connor said.

"It allows the swimmers to be part of a bigger New Zealand sporting team and to experience that environment which is something they need to understand if they are to succeed at future Commonwealth Games or Olympic Games."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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