AUCKLAND, New Zealand, May 21. THE international rivalry between Australia and New Zealand’s age group competitors is certainly heating up at the Oceania Championships in Auckland.
Australia’s Ami Matsuo, a World Championship relay medalist, tracked down her second gold of the meet with a 55.18 in the women’s 100-meter free. She already won the 200 free yesterday with a 2:00.19. Teammate Chelsea Gillett, a World Junior Championship medalist in her own right, hit the wall second in 55.86 as she just pipped New Zealand’s Samantha Lucie-Smith (55.88) for silver in the event. Matsuo also helped Australia to a win in the women’s 800-meter free relay with an 8:05.12 for the top time. New Zealand’s A (8:09.71) and B (8:37.36) teams were the other sub-9:00 times.
One of the young stars of the meet, Australia’s Kyle Chalmers rocketed to a 50.71 to win the men’s 100-meter free. That came after a 50 fly win on day one with a 24.35. New Zealand’s Steven Kent grabbed second in 50.84 with Australia’s Blake Jones earning third in 51.18. Chalmers also competed in the men’s 800-meter free relay as Australia won the event in 7:34.84. New Zealand’s A team had initially looked to be the winner, but was disqualified with an early relay takeover. New Zealand’s B (7:47.56) and New Caledonia (7:54.00) finished second and third after the DQ.
The women’s 50-meter backstroke went to the youngsters with a pair of 14-year-old New Zealanders going 1-2 in the sprint backstroke. World Junior champion Gabrielle Fa’amausili raced in with a winning 28.77, while Bobbi Gichard took second in 29.16. Australia’s Lucy McJannett rounded out the top three in 29.43. Fa’amausili moved within striking distance of the top 20 in the world currently anchored by Paige Miller and Arianna Barbieri’s 28.56s.
“It is really good to have someone the same speed and the same age,” Fa’amausili said. “It is good competition and we push each other. And it’s good practice for when we go overseas to the Youth Olympics later this year where we will race each other again. It is cool because we get to go away together. We get on well. I support her if she wins and she supports me if I win. We are good teammates.”
Meanwhile, Nicholas Greonewald (27.14) and Nicholas Brown (26.60) went 1-2 in the men’s 50-meter back for Australia, while Hawaii’s Makoa Alvarez placed third in 27.22.
There was sparse competition in the women’s 400-meter IM with just four swimmers in the finale. Tasha Hind of New Zealand won the race in 4:51.46. Her teammate Helena Gasson took second in 4:56.37, while Hawaii’s Lena Hayakawa finished third in 5:16.64. New Zealand went 1-2-3 in the men’s 400-meter IM with Nathan Capp checking in with a 4:26.24. Mathew Myers finished second in 4:28.26 with teammate Bradlee Ashby collecting third in 4:28.67.
New Zealand had another strong outing in the women’s 100-meter breast with Beckie Dooley (1:12.49) and Jane Ip (1:13.41) taking first and second in the finale. Hawaii’s Madison Balish snared third in 1:14.23. New Zealand kept piling on the hardware in the men’s 100-meter breast as Ben Walsh (1:02.81) and Julian Layton (1:03.05) placed first and second. Australia’s Jake Baggaley claimed third in 1:05.18.
New Zealand took home the mixed 200 medley relay title with a 1:47.13, while Australia finished second in 1:48.57. New Zealand’s B team posted a 1:50.19 for third in the finale.