Northland's swimmers dived back into racing on Sunday at the region's first competition since Covid-19 shut down competition and training across the country.
Almost 90 swimmers from clubs took the plunge at the Te Papawai Community Pool in Kawakawa.
"It's good to see so many people here today getting back in the pool," Swimming Northland board chairwoman Jess Rule said on Sunday.
She hoped the season would continue without interruptions but said there was a lot of uncertainty ahead for swimmers, especially around international meets.
"It's just as much a mental as a physical challenge for them – for all swimmers, but especially for those top-end swimmers, to keep training without knowing if there is an event for them."
Rule was impressed at how coaches had worked with swimmers to keep their fitness up over lockdown and get them back up to speed in the pool once training resumed.
"I take my hat off to them," she said. "I think numbers for this event are a bit down, some didn't feel ready to come into an event yet."
Before the competition began, trophies based on last year's performances were presented to swimmers and officials.
Northland's Swimmer of the Year for the past season was Ciara Smith from Northwave Swimming Club. Smith won gold medals in 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke in her age group at the New Zealand Short Course Championships last year, the only major national swimming event to go ahead last season.
She also won silver in the 200m and 400m individual medley and won medals in the open women's breaststroke events and 400m IM. She was a member of the Swimming New Zealand development squad and continues with her swim training while living in Dunedin to study at Otago University, and joining Northwave's squad when she is home for holidays.
Other top awards went to:
• Junior Swimmer of the Year: Hans Haufe (Northwave)
• Open Water Swimmer of the Year: Emilia Finer (Bream Bay)
• Para Swimmer of the Year: Cameron Leslie (Whangārei)
• Coach of the Year: Monica Cooper (Northwave)
• Official of the Year: Ross Gillespie (Dargaville)
• Administrator of the Year: Samantha Simons (Dargaville)
• Emerging Official: Matt White (Bream Bay)
• Mick Parr Memorial Trophy for swimmer service to sport: Marvin Beckmann (Bay of Islands), Samantha Dutton and Emilia Finer (both Bream Bay)
• Champion of Champions Trophy: Tyler Jepsen (Northwave)
• Swimming Northland Cup for breaking a Northland long course record by the greatest margin: Te Rauroha Paki (Northwave)
• Swimming Northland Cup for breaking a Northland short course record by the greatest margin: Ciara Smith
• Mark Cooper Trophy for the closest margin to a national age group record at a national meet: Ciara Smith
• Martin Wilson Trophy for breaking a race record by the greatest percentage margin at Northland Age Group Championships: Tyler Jepsen
• Swimming Northland Trophy for highest XLR8 points in a NZ Juniors event: Hans Haufe
• Lorraine Holmes Trophy for a 12-year and under swimmer who gains the most points in 50m and 100m finals at Northland Age Group Championships: Layla Bell (Bay of Islands)
• Crawford Woodman Cup eight-swimmer relay trophy: Bream Bay
• O.W. Wright Shield club points trophy: Northwave