Junior Zonal Festival attracts over 1200 young swimmers




Swimming New Zealand are pleased with the development of their junior programme with more than 1200 swimmers competing in the new-look competition that finished on Sunday.


The national junior championship was replaced with four zonal meets throughout the country for swimmers under 13 years, with competitions at Timaru, Wellington, Rotorua and Auckland.


Howick Pakuranga proved the leading club in the Harlequins zone (Northland, Auckland, Counties Manukau) staged at West Wave Aquatic Centre in Henderson. They finished clear of North Shore and United.


St Peters club finished top in the AquaKnights zone (Taranaki, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay/Poverty Bay) ahead of Rotorua and Greerton clubs, held at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre.


Top club in the All Stars region (Wellington, Manawatu) was SwimZone (Hutt Valley) from Capital and Karori Pirates, staged at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre, while Oamaru topped the Makos zone for the South Island ahead of Jasi and Wharenui clubs from Christchurch at the Caroline Bay Aquatic Centre in Timaru.


“This was the first year with the new zonal-based junior festival following a review of competitive pathway for swimming in New Zealand,” said Kent Stead from Swimming New Zealand.


“It has seen a large increase in the number of 12 and under swimmers involved across the country. The venues have been well attended with each zone supporting Swimming New Zealand in the event delivery.


“Swimming New Zealand looks forward to the continued growth and development of this event.”


The leading individuals from each zone included Madison Wills, 12, from the Kiwi club in Dunedin who enjoyed 10 gold medals in the Makos zone; the SwimZone pair of Pierce Collins, 12, and Kody Tourelle, 11, each won eight golds; Jodiesha Kirkpatrick, 10, from the Otumoetai club in Tauranga won 12 gold medals while Jasper Cornish, 10, from the Coast club in Whangaparaoa won 11 gold medals.


There were four national age group records set with Tarquin Magner, 12, (Otumoetai) claiming new records in the 100m freestyle (57.68), 50m backstroke (29.43) and 100m individual medley (1:06.07).


The other record went to another Tauranga swimmer with Louis Fitzjohn, 12, from the Greerton club claiming the mark in the 100m butterfly (1:-3.52).