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Wellington Continue to Make Waves on National Stage

From April 1st to April 5th, sixteen of our region’s top swimmers took to the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre for five days of action-packed racing.

Capital’s team of six put up some phenomenal performances in Auckland. Lewis Clareburt and Sam Brown were their team’s leading men, opening the racing in the Men’s 400m Individual Medley. In the final, they found themselves both making the podium, with Lewis taking gold and Sam taking bronze. Lewis’ national title-winning time was under the qualifying mark for the 2023 World Aquatics Championships, which will be held in Fukuoka, Japan, from the 14th to 30th of July. In the final event for the first day, Lewis and Sam were joined by Finn Harland and Joshua Amyes for the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay where they collected silver in a new Wellington Record! Their time of 3:24.84 wipes out their own record, held by the exact same team members, that they broke at the 2022 New Zealand Champs of 3:25.52.

Fresh off his appearance the previous night in the record-breaking relay, Finn Harland swam his way to an A final after an impressive heat swim in the 100m Backstroke. Joel Crampton charged through his first race of the competition, the 50m Butterfly, and qualified for a B Final! Joshua Amyes, Sam Brown and Lewis Clareburt were up for the 200m Freestyle on Day 2; with Joshua making the B Final and Sam and Lewis qualifying for the A Final. Kyla Brown made her 2023 NZ Champs debut with an amazing swim in the 100m Breaststroke, qualifying for the A Final! Later that night, Lewis was amongst one of the most heated contests of the competition. In the Men’s 200m Freestyle final, the top three swimmers all went sub-1:49; with Lewis out-touching them all in a time of 1:48.15. Sam finished in a well-respected fourth with a 1:51.85. In the Men’s 100m Backstroke A Final, like Sam, Finn also came fourth. Finn’s time of 55.33 is a new Wellington 17 Years record! Kyla Brown’s 100m Breaststroke A Final finished with her jumping up a placing to sixth in the country! Capital’s 4x100m Men’s Medley Relay (Harland, Brown, Clareburt, Amyes) took home another silver to round off Day 2.

Days 3, 4 & 5 proved to be very exciting for the Capital crew. Day 3 highlights were Lewis’ front-end speed in the 400m Freestyle to assist former teammate, Zac Reid, qualify for World Champs. Finn Harland’s monster effort in the 50m Backstroke to break the 17 Years Wellington and New Zealand record – placing third with a 25.67. Lewis broke the Open Wellington record in the 100m Butterfly Final, with Joel alongside him who also appeared in the A final. And last, but not least, Capital’s relay team (now somewhat infamous in keeping Auckland teams off the medal dais) won the national title in the 4x200m Freestyle relay. Day 4 highlights included Sam’s bronze medal-winning 200m Backstroke, as well as Lewis and Joel taking out gold and silver in the 200m Butterfly! Capital Swim Club’s highlight for Day 5 was Lewis and Sam in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley. In the finals, Lewis raced his way to another national title, with a World Champs qualifying time (going 1:59.14) and Sam picked up bronze in a time of 2:02.86.

Ngā Tai Tūātea a Taraika had a solid squad of four make the journey to Auckland for nationals. Day 1 saw Neve Tassicker take on the Women’s 400m Individual Medley. Dropping five seconds in her heat swim to qualify for the final, Neve then dropped a further four seconds to secure fourth place! Day 2 saw Neve led the charge again for Taraika as she took on the 50m Butterfly, making the B Final – alongside teammate Tayla Miles. Alex Esposito made his first A Final of the competition in the Men’s 100m Backstroke, where he finished in 7th place. Neve and Tayla were straight back into the action on Day 3 – this time in the Women’s 100m Butterfly. Neve qualified for the A Final (finishing in 8th) and Tayla made the B Final. Alex made his second A Final, this time in the Men’s 50m Backstroke where he finished 8th.

Making his third consecutive A Final of the competition, Alex Esposito finished in a commendable 6th place in the Men’s 200m Backstroke. Brooke Miles took out 2nd in the B Final of the Women’s 100m Freestyle shortly thereafter. Then, just moments later after Alex and Brooke’s success on Day 4, Neve Tassicker pulled out performance of the competition for Ngā Tai Tūātea a Taraika when she took out the national title of the Women’s 200m Butterfly!

On the final day of competition, all four members of the Taraika team were up and ready to round off their successful few days. Neve had the 200m Individual Medley, Alex had the 50m Freestyle and both the Miles girls too had the 50m Freestyle. Alex, Brooke and Tayla all had solid swims, with Brooke qualifying for the B Final later that evening where she finished 15th overall. Neve followed up her national title win on the previous night with a fourth placing in the 200m Individual Medley A Final!

The Pirates Swim Team were another four-strong team competing at Nationals this year. Ethan Buchanan had a successful first day; qualifying for the A final in the Men’s 400m Individual Medley and finishing in 8th place overall. Following Ethan, but going one better, was Samantha Fowler. Samantha qualified for the 400m Individual Medley A Final and finished in 7th in the country! Ethan led the team out again on Day 2, this time in the 100m Backstroke. Sean O’Connor-Close then made his first appearance for his team in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke – with a creditable 11th place finish. Nick Close did stupendously well to drop two seconds in his 200m Freestyle to qualify as first seed for the B Final. In his final, Nick dropped further time to finish in 10th place overall! Samantha Fowler, in the Women’s 200m Freestyle, then rounded off Day 2 for the Pirates.

The Pirates looked to finish strong on the remaining three days, with Day 3 looking to be the biggest of all the days for Steve Francis’ team. Two fine swims by Nick and Ethan in the 400m Freestyle saw them go through to the B Final. Nick and Ethan finished second and fourth, respectively, in the B Final later that evening. In the Women’s 400m Freestyle, Samantha Fowler picked up a two second personal best to finish in 15th! Also on Day 3 was Sean O’Connor-Close’s eight place finish in the A Final of the 200m Breaststroke. On the final day, Sean O’Connor-Close dropped time in his 50m Breaststroke and Samantha Fowler qualified for another A Final, this time in the 200m Individual Medley, where she finished 6th!

Kokoro Frost opened up the racing for the Ōtaki Titans, competing in four races across two days. He competed in the 100m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly, 50m Backstroke and 100m Butterfly. He was then joined by teammate, Phoebe Nelson, who competed in the 100m and 50m Freestyle. Phoebe did superbly well in her first event of the competition, the 100m Freestyle, to qualify for the B Final. Deciding to scratch, however, to focus on the 50m Freestyle the following day; it turned out to work in her favour as she executed a -0.4s new personal best and first seed for the B Final. In the B Final, Phoebe swam mere hundredths of a second slower than her morning swim, but still put up a good fight to touch in 2nd place.

Throughout the week, we had Kokoro Frost, Sam Brown, Neve Tassicker, Ethan Buchanan, and Phoebe Nelson doing some POV coverage through our Instagram, known as the “SW Takeover”. We also had a handful of officials make the trip up to Auckland fulfilling roles in order for the event to be a success. As a region, we are proud of everyone involved with 2023 New Zealand Champs. We can’t wait to see our swimmers, coaches, officials, and all others involved, at the next national event: New Zealand Age Group Swimming Championships.

Congratulations are also in order to Lewis Clareburt and Gary Hollywood for their selection onto the New Zealand Team for the 2023 World Aquatics Championships. We wish them, and the rest of the team, all the best for their preparations over the coming months. Noho ora mai!


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