Six months out from her only chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Hawke's Bay swimmer Emma Godwin couldn't be happier.
"It's another step in the right direction. Being able to PB in most of them ... I didn't walk away unhappy," Godwin said as she reflected on her haul of five individual gold medals, a relay silver and an individual silver at the recent national short course championships at the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre in Auckland.
Godwin's golds were won in the 50m freestyle with a Hawke's Bay Poverty Bay record record time of 25.42s, the 100m freestyle in a HBPB record time of 54.56s, the 50m backstroke in a HBPB record time of 27.66s, the 100m backstroke in 59.32s and in the 200m backstroke in a HBPB record time of 2m06.77s.
On the way to silver in the 4 x 50m freestyle relay with Grace Jones, Harriet Park and Hannah Brown, Godwin led off with a HBPB record time of 25.07s.
Godwin also won silver in the 200m freestyle with a HBPB record time of 1m59.27s.
Along with Josh Greening, who is also hoping to qualify for Tokyo, Godwin, was among the senior contingent of the Heretaunga Sundevils team which returned home with six open individual golds, an individual open silver and open relay gold and silver medals.
The March 31 to April 4 New Zealand Open championships at the same Auckland venue will be the only chance Godwin, 22, and Greening, 21, have to qualify for Tokyo.
Godwin is in Melbourne for three weeks of endurance training.
"Long course is a whole different ball game to the short course stuff. Next year I intend to do a couple of Aussie long course meets as a lead in to the New Zealand Opens," Godwin explained.
She is targeting the 200m backstroke and 200m freestyle as her goals for Tokyo. Her next meet will be the Queensland champs in December and next year Godwin will compete in six Australian state championships.
Because of her busy training schedules on both sides of the Tasman, Godwin is only working part-time at the Bstudio Brewery in Napier.
"I want to be in a position to say I gave qualifying for Tokyo everything."
An apprentice electrician with Laser Electrical, Greening was stoked with his two golds in Auckland. He won the 50m freestyle title in a HBPB record time of 22.30s and, along with coach Willy Benson, Lars Benson and Matt Sexton, formed the gold medal-winning 4 x 50m freestyle relay team.
"It's pretty surreal. That 50m title has been a long-time goal of mine. I've put in a lot of work and I'm the fittest I have been ... Tokyo is the big dream now," Greening said.
In addition to the 50m, he will work towards qualifying for the 100m freestyle in Tokyo.
He listed improving his starts as his biggest work.
"I need to be more explosive with my entry."
Greening will tackle the Hawke's Bay summer championships in December before heading to the Queensland champs.
He was full of praise for the support he receives from coach Benson, the Flaxmere community and his boss Mike Randell, who adjusts his work schedules to accommodate his training.
"I don't put any pressure on myself but I want to do well for the people who support me," Greening added.
Coach Benson described the progress of Greening and Godwin as "unbelievable".
"These are great signs as we head toward Olympic trials but it's very important we continue to make progress and not rest on our laurels post these results. A few big guns who base their training overseas weren't here competing, but you can only race who is there and Josh and Emma took care of business for the wins and set some very fast times in doing so, evidenced by all the open HBPB records."
"Again, it is some good reaffirmation for the long-term approach we take to our swimmers at Sundevils seeing them continue to push forward like this. Both Emma and Josh showed improvement in very specific skill details since open nationals in June which was pleasing from a coaching perspective. Sundevils pride ourselves on being able to provide the programme to excel right up to elite open level, while keeping it fun, interesting and challenging athletically and not just challenging swimming wise," Benson said.
"Josh and Emma are great leaders for our club and region, and we are looking forward to seeing what they can do over the next six months."
Benson said it was exciting for some of their age-group swimmers to compete in the open relays and the girls were out-touched on the final stoke.
"I believe our title is the first open relay title since the club became Sundevils in 1998. We had plenty of age-group success through that Jon Winter era but this is probably fairly unprecedented open-level success for our region over the last 20 years," Benson added.
Fourteen-year-old Sundevil Jake Stephens won bronze in his 100m backstroke final with a time of 1m00.69s. Para swimmer Lance Dustow returned home with two silver medals, five bronze medals and numerous personal best times.