Nick Macky slips in and out from pools of patience where swimmers tend to remain buoyant on the strokes of a promising future.

That's pretty much how Macky likes to quantify his maiden individual silver medal in the 50m butterfly race of the 17 to 18-year-old male category at the New Zealand Age Group Swimming Championship in Wellington last month.

"We've got quite a high number of senior swimmers [who] didn't do a crazy number of laps at a young age," says the teenager, who turns 19 on May 21, after returning with a contingent of 26 Hawke's Bay swimmers who competed from April 16 to 20.

Quietly he's chuffed with his sense of accomplishment, compared with two bronze medals in the 4 x 50m freestyle relay teams with his Heretaunga Sundevils last year, although through his Tywford School and Lindisfarne College years he has had to ride the highs and lows of "good" and "bad" birthday cycles that often pitted him against older rivals.

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Sundevils primarily focus on grooming youngsters to progress to a higher level by keeping them in the code.

Macky says Grace Jones is the epitome of another Sundevils member who is realising that potential after claiming bronze in the 17-18 years 50m freestyle event at the nationals.

"I'd rather make it further in the sport than do it [hard out] at a young age and then stop or even maybe quit," says the teenager who has been under the tutelage of 2008 Beijing Olympian Willie Benson since he started coaching in 2013 although Franco October helped mentor from 2013-16.

The biggest change will come with the short-course nationals in October when he enters the exciting domain of open grade swimmers since he started competing at 10.

Macky finds comfort in the knowledge his races don't go beyond a minute.

Unsure what he wants to do after graduating from high school last year, he is doing some part-time work and helping coach youngsters at his club.

"I suppose what you put in is what you get," he says when asked what he's learned from his mentors and, consequently, what he imparts on the young minds as an instructor.

"At a younger age I didn't quite see how much training it takes to get that goal," he says, mindful of how Benson "has been there and done it" as butterfly specialist who competed in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay team who finished sixth in Beijing .

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"I can trust what he's saying — trust the process ... so everything he's saying is going to lead us in the right path."

Dedication and training, Macky says, are pivotal in staying in the lanes of contention even though some days a swimmer isn't feeling the best on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

He now does nine training sessions, including gym work, compared to six when he was at high school.

For someone who entertains thoughts of becoming a police officer, Macky is channelling his energy into ensuring he eats correctly.

"Throughout the season I can be pretty slack," he says, accepting it as a human tendency for which he has to make allowances.

Swimming comes from his father, Rob Macky, who is an orchardist, who competed in his school days. Mum Karen, who keeps the accounts in shape in the family business, also has chauffeured their son to trainings and meetings well before dawn and well after dusk.

"Definitely in those early morning trainings when they don't get anything out of it," he says, blessed to be only a five-minute ride from the pools in Flaxmere.

His ultimate dream is to make it to a world championship.

"I need to keep doing what I'm doing at this stage because it's going really well and I'm happy with," he says.

Olivia Wellington, of Napier Girls' High School, was the only other silver medal winner.

The 50m backstroke acquisition was Wellington's first in the senior age-group category although she had claimed gold in the junior category of the race last year. She also had won silver medals last year in the 100m and 200m backstroke races.

"It puts me up there in New Zealand so that's pretty cool but I hope to go back next year to go one step higher," says the year 9 pupil who celebrated her 14th birthday last Sunday.

She is wearing a cast on her right arm after breaking it during under-15 netball training on her birthday.

"I just fell down so I put my hand down to break my fall and fractured it," said the teenager who Gary Knight coaches at Greendale Swimming Club in Napier but is doing some gym work and running during the six-week no-pool phase to heal her arm.

Wellington says she really loves her club now where Knight and a cluster of "right people" (club mates) provide a nurturing environment.

Medal winners Michael Lansdown (back, left), Arabella Smith, Olivia Wellington and Caleb Carlisle. Front: Grace Jones (left), Nick Macky and Jake Stephens. Photo/Warren Buckland
Medal winners Michael Lansdown (back, left), Arabella Smith, Olivia Wellington and Caleb Carlisle. Front: Grace Jones (left), Nick Macky and Jake Stephens. Photo/Warren Buckland

MEDAL WINNERS

Nick Macky (Sundevils): Silver, 17-18 years, 50m butterfly.

Olivia Wellington (Greendale): Silver, 13 years, 50m backstroke.

Grace Jones (Sundevils): Bronze, 17-18 years, 50m freestyle.

Jake Stephens (Sundevils): Bronze, 14 years 100m backstroke.

Michael Lansdown (Trojans): Bronze, 14 years, 200m individual medley; 14 years 400m individual medley.

Caleb Carlisle (Greendale): Bronze, 13 years, 200m backstroke.

Arabella Smith (Napier Aquahawks): Bronze, 14 years, 400m individual medley.