Eight new records as Couper shines

By Iain Hyndman

The Wanganui swim team were in fine form at the Wellington Summer Championships at the weekend, setting eight new Wanganui records and taking top three placings in 16 events.

Fifteen-year-old Sophie Couper in particular had a golden weekend with a clean sweep of the three backstroke events, winning all in personal best times.

Coach Jane Lowe said Couper had worked solidly on her backstroke technique over the past eight months to improve her speed and her hard work paid off with a 32.55 in the 50m event; 1:08.73 in the 100m and 2:27.63 in the 200m.

Shannon Schimanski (12) will head to the national junior competition in mid- February buoyed by her results. In the 50m breaststroke, which was a sharp 38.14, Schimanski broke Bianca Vettise's record to finish second by a touch to Wellington's Macy Burns. Schimanski also placed second in the 200m breaststroke with a time of 3:03.22. In the 100m she clocked 1:23.87 and was third in the 50m backstroke in 34.50.

Lowe said Laura O'Keeffe (14) continued to improve her freestyle times across all distances, setting four new Wanganui records and placing third in the 800m (9:50.89) and also in the 200m (2:13.76).

O'Keeffe also set a new 400m time of 4:45.61 and in the 50m broke another Vettise record with her time of 29.42, placing fourth in both events.

"The youngest team member, 11-year-old Sarya Lower had an exceptionally busy meet and was tenacious throughout recording outstanding personal bests," Lowe said.

Lower started the meet with a second place in the 200m breaststroke in 3:22.38 on Friday and went through the weekend competing in a further 13 events, recording personal bests in each. In her final event, the 100m freestyle, she broke Laura O'Keeffe's Wanganui record to place fourth in 1:08.60. Lower will join Schimanski at the New Zealand juniors next month.

Thomas Ireton (17) set two new open butterfly records, placing second in the 100m in 1:00:00 and fourth in the 50m in 27.51.

Other swimmers in the top three were Elena Morgan, (17) in three breaststroke events. She won the 200m in 2:59.44, finished third in the 100m in 1:24.36 and also in the 50m in 38.61.

In the backstroke Nina Eades (14) placed second in the 50m in 32.79 and Jacob Smith (14) was third in the 200m breaststroke in 2:45.75.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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