Perfect early birthday presents can come in the form of national records ... just ask Hawke's Bay swimmer Kate Hurley.
"Yes, I couldn't have asked for much more," the Napier Aquahawks club member said on her 12th birthday this week.
Two days earlier the Tamatea Intermediate School Year 8 student learned she had set two national records at the New Zealand Junior Aquaknights Festival in Rotorua, one of four zone meets being swum at the same time around the country.
Hurley, who ranks breaststroke as her preferred stroke, won the 11 years girls 200m breaststroke title in 2m54.43s and the 100m individual medley title in 1m12.09s.
"I was surprised with what I achieved in terms of records and personal bests ... I exceeded expectations," Hurley said.
"I've been swimming since I was 8 and these are my first New Zealand records. I do five different forms of dancing and they all complement my swimming," she added.
Her winning HBPB record time of 2m18.23s for the 200m freestyle shaved 9.31s off her previous personal best. She also set a HBPB record in the 200m individual medley.
Fellow Aquahawk, St Patrick's School Year 8 student Lola Nicholls, also set two national records in the same age group. Nicholls won the 50m fly title in 31.23s and 100m freestyle title in 1m03.37s.
With a 16-strong contingent at the 33-club meet Aquahawks won the top club title with 15 more medals than the next best team. They were also the top club nationally in their 101-200 entries category and this is the club's best finish at this level in four years.
Aquahawks finished the meet with 60 podium finishes - 25 golds, 26 silver and 10 bronze medals and 12 HBPB short course records. This was a tremendous feat considering the club's home pool at the Napier Aquatic Centre was closed for four weeks for repairs during the build-up to the meet and the contingent had to rely on pool space at Hastings District Council pools for training.
There was an Aquahawks winner in every event they entered in the 11 years girls age group as well as the 10 years and under age group. Hurley, Nicholls and Breeze Van Veldhuizen were just as dominant in the 11 years age group as they were in the younger age group last year.
They recorded two trifecta finishes with Nicholls first, Hurley second and Van Veldhuizen third in the 100m freestyle and 50m freestyle finals. Just as dominant as this trio were Addy Wairama, Scarlett Botes and Millie Skidmore in the 10 and under age group.
They also posted two trifecta finishes with Wairama first, Skidmore second and Botes third in their 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley finals. Onekawa School Year 5 student Wairama set four 9 years girls HBPB records in her 100m and 200m freestyle and 50m and 100m backstroke finals.
Wairama has been swimming since she was 5 and at competitive level for the past two years. She ranks freestyle as her favourite stroke.
"Training hard," was Wairama's reply when quizzed on the keys to her success.
Hurley, Nicholls, van Veldhuizen, Botes, Wairama and Skidmore will all compete at the festival, which caters for swimmers 12 years and under, next year. Like the rest of the Aquahawks contingent they heaped kudos on their head coach Phil Melhuish for his input into their training schedules.
Other HBPB short course records broken by the Aquahawks swimmers:
Millie Skidmore (9 years girls) 200m backstroke; Lola Nicholls (11 years girls) 100m freestyle and 50m fly.
Other Hawke's Bay medal winners:
Napier Aquahawks: Jyde Lowe (11 years boys), Bronze in 100m fly. Sam Skidmore (10 years boys), Silver in 50m and 100m backstroke, 100m free and 200m IM; Bronze in 200m free. Zoe Ennor (12 years girls), Silver in 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke. Kate Hurley, Lola Nicholls, Poppy Walling and Zoe Ennor, Gold in 12 years and under girls freestyle relay. Zoe Ennor, Jyde Lowe, Lola Nicholls and Jayden Bryant, Silver in 12 years and under mixed medley relay.
Trojans: Angus Lovett (12 years boys) Silver in 50m fly and 200m IM; Bronze in 100m IM, 50m free, 50m backstroke. Charlotte McLaren (10 years and under girls), Silver in 100m fly. Jack Hutton (10 years boys) Silver in 200m breaststroke.
Heretaunga Sundevils: Finley Day (10 years and under boys), Bronze in 50m fly.
Greendale: Francesca Vial (10 years and under girls), Silver in 100 and 200m breaststroke.