WELLINGTON, New Zealand, March 10. WHILE the attention focuses on this year's London Olympics, the emergence of talented young swimmers this week has given considerable promise for the 2016 Rio Olympic campaign.
There were three further national records top conclude a week of enterprising performances at the Mayfair Pools New Zealand Age Group championships at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre.
Outstanding Canterbury 16 year old Sophia Batchelor was in the act again with two further victories and a national record. Batchelor (Aquagym) took out the 200m butterfly in an excellent 2:14.03 to whack more than two seconds off the previous record, given her 22 current national age group marks. She followed this with a win in the 50m freestyle to complete an outstanding week with eight gold medals.
She was joined by 13 year old Paige Schendelaar-Kemp from the Howick Pakuranga club, who also won two further titles tonight in the 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley to join Batchelor on eight gold medals for the championships.
Howick Pakuranga's Bayley Main wrapped up a superb week with victory in the 14 years 50m freestyle in 24.55s, going under the previous national age group record held by Beijing Olympian Orinoco Faamausili-Banse. Main finished with six gold medals.
The other record tonight went to Hawkes Bay 12-year-old Bruin Maunder who clocked 1:13.93 to finish second overall in the under 13 years 100m breaststroke just under the old mark held by the outstanding Jeffrey Arona-Tuifana'e.
There were three swims over the magical 800 FINA point mark, the general litmus test for world class performances. Two went to Batchelor with 821 in the 200m backstroke and 816 in the 100m backstroke.
However the best international quality swim went to newcomer Tabitha Baumann (North Shore) who gained 832 FINA points in the 16 years 800m freestyle in 8:45.13, which was three seconds inside Cara Baker's old record. Baumann is the daughter of former double Olympic champion Alex Baumann, who is the new chief executive of High Performance Sport New Zealand.
Her North Shore club, under the guidance of Thomas Ansorg, was the leading club at the championships just ahead of the Counties Manukau club Howick Pakuranga with Capital (Wellington) third, Aquagym fourth ahead of fellow Christchurch club Wharenui.
The focus now moves to the London Olympic Trials at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Henderson starting on 25 March.
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