McCarthy Masters Medleys, Main Brothers Battle in Backstroke at New Zealand Opens

Gina McCarthy. AON Swimming New Zealand National Age Group Swimming Championships, National Aquatic Centre, Auckland, New Zealand, Friday 20 April 2018. Photo: Simon Watts/
Photo Courtesy: Simon Watts/

By Dave Crampton, Swimming World Contributor.

The New Zealand Open championships have been dominated by juniors, with Gina McCarthy, 16,
getting her second New Zealand Opens title in Auckland. However older swimmers featured in most
of the medals on the fourth day of these championships.

McCarthy got her second medley title, winning the 400m IM in 4:53.23. The lead changed several
times among the top swimmers, but McCarthy was too strong in the breaststroke, gaining two body
lengths, and really pushed the final 25 meters.

Her time was also under the 4:55.44 qualifying time for the Junior Pan Pacific (JPP) championships.

“I was dying at the wall and listening to the announcer and when he said I got the [ JPP] time I went
‘oh yesss’.”

“It was a big shock, (and) you always expect the other girls to win.”

McCarthy said she missed not racing some of the faster senior swimmers such as Mya Rasmussen,
who has stopped the clock under a Pan Pacific qualifying time (4:42.19), and last year’s winner,
Olympian Helena Gasson. But she was given a good run by the youngest in the field, 14-year-old
Erika Fairweather who was second in 4:56.02. Her time was also under the 4:55.04 JPP time, and she
is taking home at least three silver medals from these championships.

McCarthy was focusing on her technique as well as her finish, which she also did in the 200m IM, winning that earlier in the week in 2:18.53, but missing out on the JPP time by just 0.06.

“I was targeting the 200IM – but I was just off,” she said.

McCarthy, who also won an Oceania title last week in the 200m backstroke, is hoping to do another
good personal best in the 1500m today. That event is expected to be won by Emma Robinson, who
qualified for the Pan Pacific Champs in the 800m earlier in the week.

Only 0.01 separated the top two in the 50m backstroke with Bayley Main heading off his brother Corey, clocking 25.92 and 25.93 respectively, with the following six swimmers under 27 seconds. It
was the first medal for Corey Main, after scratching from the 200m backstroke final and getting disqualified out of a win in the 100m, elevating Bayley Main into third.

Cassie Wright took out the women’s event in 28.41.

Older male swimmers were also among the medals in the 200m butterfly. Winner Lewis Clareburt
clocked 1:57.57, with Wilrich Coeztee second in 1:59.04. both in personal best times. Shaun Burnett, 27, was third, as he was eight years ago, the last time two dipped under two minutes at an
Open event. Lochlainn O’Connor (2:04.78), swam a JPP time in the heats.

It is understood that is the first time all medallists have clocked under two minutes in a 200m butterfly event in New Zealand. Coetzee also won the 200m butterfly event at the Oceania championships last week.

Sixteen-year-old Kiana Swain won the women’s 200m butterfly in 2:16.41 for her first national Open
title. She headed off last year’s winner, 29-year-old Charlotte Webby, who clocked 2.17.86, faster
than her 2017 time.

Ciara Smith won the 100m breaststroke in 1:10.86 just 0.06 ahead of Bronagh Ryan, who holds the
national open record in the little pool. Smith also won the 100m breaststroke, but just 0.03 separate
the pair in the seedings in today’s 50m event.

Julian Layton comfortably won his second breaststroke title in 1.02.94 over George Schroeder, as he
did in the 100m, with Matthew Holder swimming 1:03.62, well under the JPP qualifying time.