The Toyota Whanganui Swim team punched well above its weight at the New Zealand Short Course Swimming Champs in Auckland despite the absence of its core group.
After many years of the "usual suspects" attending the national championships, this was a year where four of the five-strong team were largely inexperienced at this level due to injuries to the talented Sarya Lower and the departure to university of others.
Only Shannon Schimanski remained from the core group, and she was joined by Jonte Wright, who is boarding at Collegiate for his last couple of years at school, Alex Forlong, and a couple of talented youngsters in the form of 14-year-old Amelia Cronin and 13-year-old Ethan Bryers.
The NZSC format is different to most meets as age group and open swimmers race together, with the morning heats doubling as timed finals in the various age groups and A, B C and D open finals held in the evening session, where swimmers can gain a true overall national ranking.
Once again the small Whanganui team punched well above its weight with a number of top 10 finishes and Whanganui records being broken throughout the meet.
Schimanski was probably the unluckiest swimmer from Whanganui with two fourth placings in the highly competitive 17-18 age group in the 50m and 100m breaststroke events. She made the A final in the 50m breaststroke placing 10th and easily won her B final in the 100 breast in a new Whanganui open and age group record of 1.10.92.
Had she produced this swim in the morning session she would have placed second in her age group and that time was the 8th fastest swum at the competition by any woman in the event. She also placed 7th in her age group and 4th in the B final in the 200m breaststroke lowering her own Whanganui record to 2.38.90. She also paced 10th in 100m Individual Medley in her age group, and while she didn't medal, had an outstanding meet.
Bryers started to show his potential with a 5th placing in the 400m IM in a Whanganui age group record of 5.07.11, and a 9th placing in the 400m freestyle in a Whanganui age group record of 4.30.73. He then stepped up to the longest race in the pool, the 1500m freestyle where he smashed his own Whanganui age group record in a very fast time of 17.43.91 to finish 4th.
To put this time in perspective, the Whanganui open record is about 17.40, and Ethan at only 13 missed this by only 3 or 4 seconds.
Jonte Wright performed well on an interrupted build up to pick up a 9th placing in the 100m breaststroke in the 16-17 age group, and broke the Whanganui open record in the 50m breaststroke with a swim of 31.15 in winning the D final.
Amelia Cronin raced the 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle solidly, obtaining personal best swims in all of her events and will look toward the long course (50 metre pool) age group championships with confidence given her steady rate of improvement.
Alex Forlong maintained her 16-year-old national rankings of 11th in the 400m IM and 12th in the 200m butterfly.
The swimmers now go on a two week break before returning to their training in preparation for the summer and the long course season.