Swimming: Top junior swimmers in action

Swim Rotorua is sending their top junior athletes to the Auckland Junior Championships which take place tomorrow.

The Swimming Club, which is based at the Rotorua Aquatics Centre, is aiming to develop the five athletes pitting them against tough opposition from the Auckland Clubs.

"We are determined to develop our best young athletes by exposing them to a higher competitive standard. All five have really impressed me with their attitude and work ethic, and I have no doubt that they will all rise to the challenge and attack their races," head coach Alistair Johnson said.

The selected athletes are Paddy Baylis (12), David Boles (12), Bianca Donelley (10), Anasetini Nagera (12) and Jopae Nagera (12). They will compete in more than 30 events, ranging from 100m breaststroke to 400m freestyle.

Meanwhile, 49 of the club's athletes competed at the annual Swim Rotorua Long Course Meet held at the city's Aquatic Centre. Despite atrocious weather, the athletes gave it everything, resulting in many personal best times.

Leading the way was 17-year-old Jody Lickfold who won all four of her races, with the girls' Open 50m freestyle being the pick of the bunch. Fellow squad member, Ben Matthews took a clean sweep of the boys' 15-year-olds backstroke events and he also won the 200m freestyle. Older brother Luke, despite being in the middle of exams, dominated the open 50m backstroke with an excellent 30.40 seconds.

The younger athletes also displayed determination and gained best times and first places. None more so than Bianca Donelley, who won all five of her events in personal best times.

Bianca's best performance came in the tough 400m freestyle where she broke 6 minutes for the first time to record 5.49.97.

Also taking gold in all his events and in best times was 11-year-old, James Baldwin who took top honours in the 50m breaststroke and in the 50m freestyle. Other youngsters who caught the eye of the club's new swimming head coach Johnson were 9-year-old Milla Theobald who competed in nine events with seven golds, and Jack Weston who was victorious in six events in the 15-year-age group.

Johnson was understandably pleased with the results.

"It was great to see all the athletes trying hard. We are developing a new club culture at Swim Rotorua where teamwork and excellence are practised at all levels."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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