Wanganui swimmers go hunting the big time next week at the national short-course championships in Wellington.



And after a long, careful preparation, coach Jane Lowe is confident of a strong showing, with several swimmers ranked in the top 10 in New Zealand among her fully qualified squad of 11.



Top-ranked is Laura O'Keeffe in the 14-year-old 800 metres freestyle. She has the busiest time of the team, with nine events.



Seventeen-year-old Thomas Ireton, with seven events, will also not have time to blink. There's a strong backstroke element in the travelling squad, and there will also be two relay teams amongst the girls.

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"It's a big team, strong and well prepared," said Lowe.



"In some age-groups the qualifying standard is really quite high. In some of the age-groups maybe only between 12 and 20 have qualified, and the most that can is 30.



"We have several in the top 10, so they'll all be wanting to get into finals."



All 11 squad members are Wanganui High School students. Nine are from Lowe's age-group squad, and two - Elena Forlong and Fergus Smith - are from the Youth Squad.



It's been hard work. The Youth members train five times a week, the others train seven times in the water and three on the land.



"It's been a gradual development," said Lowe, who is in her seventh year of coaching. She has one more step to take with the squad, and that's another year away. It involves stepping-up the training to nine sessions a week.



"To be competitive they've got to be up to swimming at that level," Lowe said.