AUCKLAND, New Zealand, May 20. HOST New Zealand took the most gold medals on the first day of the Oceania long course swimming championships, taking six wins to Australia’s five. The meet is featuring some of the rising stars from countries in the southern Pacific Ocean.
New Zealander Matthew Stanley is one of those young talents. Stanley is the national record holder in the 200 and 400 freestyles, and won the 200 free today in 1:49.76. That’s slightly off his national record of 1:47.16, and just five tenths slower than what he swam at the New Zealand championships last month to earn a spot on the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific championships teams. Placing second today was New Zealand’s Steven Kent with a 1:49.84 after leading by four tenths at the 100-meter mark. Damien Fyfe of Australia took the bronze with a 1:53.32.
Ami Matsuo, a member of Australia’s 800 free relay team at last year’s world championships, won the women’s 200 free in Auckland today with a 2:00.19. She held off a fast-charging Samantha Lucie-Smith of New Zealand, who posted a 2:00.70 for the silver medal. Australia’s Shayna Jack, just 15 years old, took bronze with a 2:01.45. Jack set the 15-year-old national age group record last month with a 1:59.67.
Australia won the first two events of the night, taking the men’s and women’s 50 butterfly races. Kyle Chalmers, who took down national age group records in the sprint freestyles last month, swam a 24.35 to win the 50 butterfly over the 24.65 by New Zealand’s Nielsen Varoy and the 24.95 by Australia’s Dominic Richardson.
In the women’s 50 fly, Brianna Throssell posted a 26.51 to win over two New Zealanders. Laura Quilter took silver with a 27.02 and Sophia Batchelor was third with a 27.84.
Australia’s fourth gold came in the men’s 100 back, as Nicholas Groenewald swam a 56.68 to beat out Makoa Alvarez of Hawaii and his 59.14. William Clark of Fiji took the bronze medal with a 1:00.93.
The final gold medal for Australia on the opening night came in the mixed 200 free relay in a time of 1:37.40. A 22.44 anchor leg by Cameron Simpson almost got New Zealand the win, but they settled for silver with a 1:37.53.
The host country won five other gold medals besides Stanley’s 200 free win. Laura Quilter and Caroline Baddock gave the Kiwis a 1-2 finish in the women’s 100 back with times of 1:02.13 and 1:02.26, respectively. Australia’s Amy Forrester took third with a 1:04.05.
Shaun Burnett posted the sole 200 butterfly under two minutes today when he won the men’s race in 1:59.31. Nicholas Brown of Australia took the silver with a 2:00.31, and Isaac Foote won bronze with a 2:02.37.
With only five swimmers entered in the women’s 200 fly, a timed final race featured a win by Samantha Lee with a 2:13.39. Australia’s Tasmin Cook was second with a 2:14.95 while New Zealand’s Helena Gasson was third with a 2:16.06.
A six-man field in the 1500 freestyle was led by the 15:38.72 by Nathan Capp of New Zealand, followed by the 15:58.87 by countryman Mathew Myers. Australia’s Joshua Parrish took the bronze with a 16:06.86.
Steven Kent overtook Matsuo on the freestyle leg of the mixed 400 medley relay to give New Zealand the victory with a 3:55.46 to Australia’s 3:55.68. The New Zealand B team was third with a 4:00.95.