NZ Sport Course Champs - Thomas Watkins star of day
Thomas Watkins has been in record breaking form this week. Fresh off setting a new 18 years national age-group record in the 400m individual medley two days ago, Watkins bettered Gareth Kean’s 200m backstroke age-group record in the morning heats with a time of 1:55.88s.
From Wellington’s Capital Swim Club, Watkins was the fastest qualifier for the evening A-finals.
The 18 year-old battled it out with North Shore’s Bradlee Ashby with the lead changing between the two numerous times before Ashby pulled away to win in 1:53.03s, his seventh gold of these championships.
“I was talking earlier with my coach Matt (Woofe) about working into the walls and hitting that third 50 the same way I did in the 200 freestyle, and it paid off.”
Watkins was second home in 1:55.05s, breaking his morning record once again. Over the last fortnight he has shaved over 2 seconds off his personal best after going 1:57.91s at the NZ Secondary Schools Championships.
Corneille Coetzee (North Shore) was third in 1:56.47s.
Emma Godwin (Heretaunga) dominated the women’s 200m backstroke field to win her first title of the championships.
Godwin was runner up in the 100m backstroke, but there was no denying the Hawkes Bay local who won by over 5 seconds in 2:07.48, well under the FINA B standard.
“It was a massive PB for me, it was about keeping the stroke rate up, keeping the turns accurate and smashing those underwaters,” Says Godwin.
Annabell Simpson (Northwave) was second in 2:12.40s and Greta Agnew (United) third, 2:13.17s.
An emotional Vanessa Ouwehand (St Peter’s) fought off Yeonsu Lee (North Shore) in the final of the women’s 100m butterfly to complete the 50m and 100m double.
Lee had the lead as the two turned for home before Ouwehand drew on all her reserves to win in 1:00.07s to Lee’s 1:00.28s.
“I could feel her (Lee) coming, that last 25 meters was something, I’m just so exhausted and that was so hard,” a teary Ouwehand said after the race.
Fifteen-year-old Alice Waldow (United) was second in 1:00.83s, a new personal best.
In the men’s event, Ashby was last off the blocks but as we’ve seen seven times previously these championships, he was first home in 52.31s, shaving 0.01s off his previous best time.
Club mate Wilrich Coetzee (North Shore) again the silver medalist in 52.79s, with Sam Perry (St Peter’s) winning bronze in 53.16s.
Ruby Matthews (Evolution) upstaged pre-race favourite Gina McCarthy (Hillcrest) in the finals of the women’s 400m individual medley, winning in a new personal best time of 4:44.80s.
“I just tried to focus on each individual stroke, especially my backstroke as that’s my weak stroke,” says Matthews.
McCarthy who had won the 200m individual medley earlier in the week was second in 4:47.62s, with Ciara Smith (Northwave) third in 4:48.23s.
Emma Robinson (Capital) continues to dominate distance swimming in New Zealand. Robinson went head to head with Otago’s Caitlin Deans (Neptune) for the first 200m before the Capital swimmer made her move, winning comfortably in 8:27.85s.
“It was pretty tough at the 600m mark I was hurting a bit, the goal was to build every 200.”
The Gold Coast based swimmer will now turn her focus to building for the 2019 FINA World Championships under the guidance of coach Chris Nesbitt.
Deans obliterated her personal best by over ten seconds in winning silver (8:30.65s), with Hayley McIntosh (Northwave) winning bronze (8:34.27s), slicing 4 seconds off her previous best time.
With only one Para swimming event on today’s programme, Chris Arbuthnott (Ice Breaker) continues to show great form in producing another stand out performance to win the men’s 100m butterfly Para multi-class in 1:02.26s, his fourth title of the championships.
Jane Fox (Orca) won the women’s event in 1:25.43s from Hannah van Wijk of Dannevirke (1:43.12s).
In amended results from day 3, Ciara Smith was awarded the gold medal in the women’s 200m breaststroke. Smith’s time of 2:25.17s will also stand as a NZ open short course record. Ruby Matthews was awarded the silver medal and Ellie Eastwood (United) bronze.