Twelve-year-old Regan Hanna was the breakout star of the Toyota Whanganui Swim Club at the Wellington Short Course Championships at the weekend.
In recent years the Wellington championships have unearthed a new talent from the Whanganui club and this year it was Hanna who was outstanding all weekend, picking up medals in races over various strokes and distances to claim the overall top points scorer in his age group at the biggest competition Whanganui swimmers attend outside of national meets.
He won his gold medals in the tough 400m individual medley and 400m freestyle, silvers in the 200m breaststroke, 200m butterfly, 200m IM and 100m free, and bronze medals in 200m free and 100m fly.
Hanna also achieved a 100 per cent strike rate for personal best times, one of which was a 17 second improvement in the 200m breaststroke, qualifying for NZ Div 2 Championship and picking up a Whanganui record.
But it wasn't just him who was turning heads in Wellington with the rest of the team putting in some fantastic performances and every swimmer picking up personal best times and six of the 11 swimmers from the Whanganui team finishing on the podium.
In a competition featuring the best swimmers in the lower North Island, Whanganui got off to a flying start in the first session with the first swimmer in the water, 11-year-old Sophie Young-Wilson, posting a massive five-second personal best in the first heat of the 100m IM, before the talented Aria Bannister got the first medal of the meet with a great swim to pick up silver.
It wouldn't be long before the first gold of the meet was struck when Bannister smashed out another PB in the 50m breaststroke to continue what would be a highly successful meet for her with another gold in the 100m breast, more silver medals in the 200m breast, 50m backstroke, 200m back, 200m IM and a bronze in the 200m free.
She also achieved PBs in every race she did and was Whanganui's top overall points scorer at the meet, just edged out for the individual points winner in her age group.
National development squad member Ethan Bryers (15) also picked up three silver medals in the 200m free, the 200m IM and the 400m IM as well as a bronze in the 400m free.
Most pleasing for Bryers as he prepares for the NZ Short Course Champs next month is that he swam some very good PBs and broke a Whanganui record.
Whanganui's other medal winners were the talented trio of Georgia Abraham, 13, Cheyenne Nightingale, 14 and Cayden Earles, 14, all of whom are attending the NZ Short Course Champs next month.
Nightingale swam a solid 200m fly for bronze, Abraham achieved her bronze medals in the 50m and 200m backstroke events and Earles picked up a silver in the 50m backstroke and bronzes in the 50m and 100m breast and the 400m IM.
Team spokesman Neil Forlong was impressed by members' efforts.
"In the last three months we have been relying on a group of temporary coaches while the board has been working in the background to secure a work visa for former Northern Island Commonwealth Games and Olympic Swimmer Richard Gheel," Forlong said.
"The results achieved this weekend are a huge boost for the squad and a glowing endorsement of the work and time put in by Jaimee Schimanski, Elena Forlong, Aaron Bunker, Fernando Castellanos, Lucy Newton, Marama Cameron, Ethan Bryers and Verena Nowak."
Next week a new era for the Toyota Whanganui Swim team dawns with the arrival of Gheel whose first assignment will be preparing the team of Bryers, Earles, Nightingale and Abraham for the NZ Short Course champs in Auckland in early October.