Swim Rotorua members produced some impressive results at New Zealand Age Group Swimming Championships (NAGS) to complete a memorable year for the club.
The club took 12 swimmers to the event in Auckland last month, which attracted 800 swimmers from all over New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific.
Fourteen-year-old John Paul College student Joshua Balmer was the standout performer with a fantastic series of races. Despite his inexperience in the 1500m freestyle, he produced a stunning effort to win the gold medal in a time of 17m 14.83s, beating his best time by more than a minute.
Balmer followed that up with another visit to the podium to take the bronze medal in the 400m freestyle with a time of 4m 18.27s. In the 200m freestyle he stormed home from the outside lane to win another bronze medal in 2m 03.78s, another personal best.
Jasmine Hagan made her NAGS debut with a fine showing in her backstroke sprint events. She took fourth in the girls' 12-13 years 100m backstroke with an improved time of 1m 08.90s. In the 50m backstroke she gave it everything to touch home in a time of 32.51s to take eighth place.
Open water specialist David Boles used the event to test his racing and competitive skills. Despite being in heavy training just prior to NAGS, David managed to get through to six finals in the medley, freestyle, backstroke and butterfly events. His top placing came in the boys' 16-18 years 400m medley where he placed fourth in the B final.
Paddy Baylis continued his intensive build-up to next month's Oceania Championships with some solid racing. The 18-year-old's best two placings came in the 1500m freestyle (ninth) and in the 400m freestyle (fourth in the B final).
James Baldwin impressed with his sprinting speed to make it through to two finals in the boys' 16-18 years age group. These came in the 50m freestyle, with a best time of 25.35, and a third place finish in the C final, and in the 100m freestyle with another best time of 55.70s for fifth place in the C final.
Annelyse Cowie showed plenty of determination to make the final in the girls' 14 years 200m breaststroke. Cowie dug deep to post a best time of 2m 52.75s and take eighth place. Skye Cox, 15, grabbed a top 10 placing in the 800m freestyle with a best time of 9m 52.58s.
Making their NAGS debut were Rocco Marsh, 16, Lina Stahlhut, 12, and Theo Harvey, 13, who all did really well to post best times. All three will be looking forward to 2019 to qualify in more events and to challenge for the finals.
Emily Spear and Kapua Warbrick both raced in the girls' 14 years age group with solid performances in the freestyle and breaststroke events respectively.
In the relay events, the girls' quartet of Cox, Hagan Cowie, and Spear combined well to take 12th in the girls' 12-15 years 4x100m medley relay. In the 4x100m freestyle relay, Warbrick came in for Cowie and helped the team to 19th overall.
Representing the boys' 16-18 years team were Baldwin, Boles, Marsh and Baylis. They placed 13th in the medley relay and 16th in the freestyle relay.
Head coach Alastair Johnson said: "Josh did extremely well to win a tough 1500m freestyle, but I was also very pleased with his fine efforts in the 200m and 400m freestyle.
"Overall, the team did well with some cracking performances across the board. Despite our fine showing, we are very determined to do even better next year with the same group of athletes, plus more young swimmers coming through."