NAG Records Tumble as Juniors Medal on Day 3 of New Zealand Opens

Michael Pickett, 50m Freestyle. AON Swimming New Zealand National Open Swimming Championships, National Aquatic Centre, Auckland, New Zealand, Wednesday 4 July 2018. Photo: Simon Watts/
Photo Courtesy: Simon Watts/

By Dave Crampton, Swimming World Contributor. 

Two younger swimmers in their first open championships got themselves silver medals on the third
day of the New Zealand Opens, with sprinter Michael Pickett runner up in the 50m freestyle and
Erika Fairweather doing the same in the 400m freestyle.

In addition, 18-year-old freestyler Zac Reid qualified for Junior Pan Pacific (JPP) championships and
Youth Olympics in the 800m freestyle – his third qualifying time in three events. He knocked 12
seconds off his personal best, clocking 8:01.87, setting a NAG record, more than 12 seconds ahead of
Quintin Hurley, who at 8:14.32 also qualified for both.

Reid has had a great competition, winning the 200m in 1:50.35, and the 400m in 3:51.10, with his
favoured 1500m to come.

Fairweather – at just 14 – is having an outstanding competition at her first Opens. She also got her
third JPP qualifying time – in the 400m event – clocking 4:16.89, breaking the National Age Group
record by five seconds. Bronze medallist Eve Thomas (4:17.60) also went under the JPP standard
again, in an event that was won by Carina Doyle in 4:16.40 after last year’s winner, Olympian Emma
Robinson, scratched.

Fairweather is surprised how quickly she has risen up the New Zealand rankings, but sees this open
championship as no different to racing competitors her own age.

“I’m slightly surprised – but I’ve trained hard for it. It’s pretty cool to have the competition – they
are all nice girls – it’s not too different,” she said.

“I always aim for PBs and see how I end up – I’m happy with how I’ve raced.”

Pickett, who is not fully tapered, was surprised how quickly he has risen up the rankings to get a silver medal in his first Open competition. For a 15-year-old, his times are world class in his age group. He might have got a silver medal in the 50m freestyle, clocking 23.13 after his 23.08 NAG in the heats, but he wasn’t that happy. It was the only one of his six swims to date at this championships that was not a NAG record.

“A 22 would have been nice,” he said. “In the heats I had a dodgy breakout.”

He ran out of breath in the final, tiring near the wall. “There’s still plenty of room for improvement.”

He has the 100m freestyle later this week, and is inching closer to that sub 50 time. He swam 50.69
in a relay lead-off earlier this week and although the Pan Pacific standard is out of reach, his time is
well under the JPP qualifying time of 51.63. But he is “100 percent certain” of his ability to get
another NAG in the 100m freestyle, and is eyeing the 51.40 time for the Youth Olympics.

“The relay swim was a good one – especially half an hour after the 50m fly,” he said. “It’s been great
– racing the big guns is always pretty fun.”

Except he’s not just racing them, he’s beating most of them, too.

Some of the big guns were missing. Last year’s 800m champion Matt Hutchins has retired, former
world junior record-holder Gabrielle Fa’amausili is in the US, top medley swimmer Mya Rasmussen
didn’t enter, Emma Robinson scratched the 800m, and Bradlee Ashby, who has subbed two minutes in 200m IM, has scratched from the meet, as well as next month’s Pan Pacific championships in
Tokyo, due to injury. That 200 IM event at Opens was won by Lewis Clareburt, who, like Ashby, was
also a Commonwealth Games finalist in that event. He is inching closer to that sub two-minute mark
himself, clocking 2:00.65; his first time under 2:01.

World championships and Commonwealth Games backstroke finalist Corey Main scratched the
200m final, then was disqualified out of the win in the 100m, which was won by Cornielle Coetzee in
55.85, with Main’s brother Bayley third in 56.41. Second placed Kane Follows (56.14) was also
disqualified, but was reinstated.

Sixteen-year-old Gina McCarthy got her first open title. She clocked 2:18.53 in the 200m IM – just
0.06 off a JPP time, but inside the 2:20.41 time for the Youth Olympics.

In other events, Rebecca Moynihan won the women’s 50m freestyle in 26.22, and Slovakian visitor
Karolina Hajkova clocked 1:02.70 in the 100m backstroke, with Gina Galloway second in 1:02.25, a
JPP time. Daniel Hunter, who qualified for the Pan Pacific Championships in the 50m freestyle at the
Commonwealth Games in 22.34, won that event in 22.60.

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