A team of 13 from the Swim Rotorua Swimming Club made the journey south to compete at the 2019 New Zealand Age Group Swimming Championships in Wellington.
The event attracted more than 700 competitors from throughout New Zealand, as well as teams from New Caledonia and Australia.
Lina Stahlhut had a stand out meet with medals in the 13-year-old girls' 800m and 1500m freestyle. Lina showed great tenacity and pacing skills to win the silver medal in the 800m and the bronze medal in the 1500m. She also stepped up in her backstroke and medley events to make a further three finals and claim 52 points for the team.
Teammate Nikita Pola competed in the same age group and made a sparkling national debut. She won silver in the 1500m freestyle with a time of 18m 45.84s. She put in a solid effort in the 800m freestyle to take fourth spot. In the 400m freestyle Nikita did well to make the final in which she placed ninth overall.
Rising star Dion Wright continued his meteoric rise with a bronze medal in the 13-year-old boys' 1500m freestyle. Dion produced a personal best time of 18m 40.74s. He pushed on in the 400m freestyle where he placed 10th overall.
Josh Balmer had four top 10 placings to earn the team another 40 points. He was close to a medal in the 15-year-old boys' 800m freestyle with a time of 9m 8.76s. His other scoring placings came in the 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle.
David Boles had a very busy programme in the boys' 17-18 years age group with events ranging from 50m backstroke to the 1500m freestyle. Despite the number of races, he achieved three top 10 placings with the best coming in his signature 200m backstroke with a best time of 2m 11.58s which earned him fifth place.
Rocco Marsh produced some excellent performances and showed some real skill in his freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke events. His time in the 100m freestyle of 55.34s was the standout.
Damon Cowie stormed home in his favoured breaststroke events to post best times in the 100m and 200m races. David, Rocco and Damon then combined with James Baldwin for the 4x100m relays to place 12th in the freestyle and medley events.
Jasmine Hagan built on her NAGS experiences last year to show off her freestyle and backstroke credentials. Her top performance came in the 14-year-old girls' 400m freestyle where she excelled in the final to achieve a new best time of 4m 45.90s to place eighth. In the 1500m freestyle, Jasmine pushed hard to take fifth place.
Open water specialist Emily Spear showed her pool racing qualities in the endurance events. Her best placing came in the 15-year-old girls' 1500m freestyle where she picked up sixth place. This was then backed up with an excellent time of 9m 45.90s in the 800m freestyle.
Annelyse Cowie battled hard to secure two finals which came in the 15-year-old girls' 100m breaststroke and 400m medley which were both achieved in best times. Annelyse also scored team points in the 1500m freestyle.
Skye Cox showed some excellent technical skills in her backstroke races, including a swift 32.72s in the 50m sprint. Skye's efforts were rewarded with a 10th place in the 16-year-old girls' 800m freestyle.
Sam Trass was another debutant and made a big splash in the 13-year-old boys' 200m butterfly. Sam was in pugnacious form to wrap up sixth place with a best time of 2m 36.07s.
Head coach Alastair Johnson was upbeat about his team's efforts.
"We knew going into the meet that everyone would need to really step up to make finals. Despite some near misses, we did have more athletes break into the top 10 this year.
"However, medals were hard to come by, which is something that we will look to put right in 2020. We are still a young team, so the opportunity is there to upskill and to make a bigger impact in 12 months' time. A heartfelt big thank you to Southern Trust for providing much needed funds to support the swimmers."
- Supplied content