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The start of something extraordinary

Corey the Main man in young New Zealand swim team

Howick Pakuranga swimmer Corey Main has grabbed both of New Zealand’s medals at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships that finished in Hawaii yesterday.

The 17 year old won a silver medal in the 100m backstroke and a bronze in the 200m backstroke.

The Junior Pan Pacs comprise the best swimmers aged 13-18 years who have not competed in the Olympics from USA, Japan, Canada, Australia as foundation members, along with New Zealand, Mexico and Hong Kong.

There were three New Zealand records set during the championships in Honolulu with kiwi swimmers qualifying for nine A finals.

Main was the standout New Zealand performer. He qualified second fastest for the 100m backstroke, going under the 55 second barrier for the first time to finish second in the final in 54.96. This broke the previous national 17 years age group record, held by Olympian Daniel Bell, by 0.3s.

Main finished second to American Jack Conger who broke Gareth Kean’s Junior Pan Pacs record, clocking 54.07 in the final.

The young New Zealand was third in the 200m backstroke in 1:59.67, which was 15/100ths of a second outside Kean’s national age record, and the first time under the two minute barrier for Main. Conger won the final in another meet record in 1:57.20 ahead of Keita Sunama (JPN) and Main.

Ashburton’s Grace Somerville went close to a medal in the 10km open water swim, having to settle for fifth place with three swimmers touching together for third place.

Somerville was given the same time as the other two swimmers but the judges awarded the bronze medal to American Rachel Zilinskas. Fellow American Becca Mann pushed clear to win in 1:57.22 from Australia’s Emily Seymour.

In other A finals Christchurch’s Sophia Batchelor was fourth in the 100m butterfly. She was pipped for the bronze medal by just 0.3 seconds, timed at 59.78 to set a national record for 17 years.

Batchelor (AquaGym), coached by Leeane Speechley, had a busy schedule, making the B finals in five other swims.

Wellington’s Emma Robinson (Capital) placed sixth in the 800m freestyle in 8:48.90, to take nearly two seconds off the national age record for 18 years held by her clubmate and London Olympian Samantha Lucie-Smith.

Robinson was ninth in the 1500m freestyle in 17:12.33, and also made the B final in the 100m and 400m freestyle.

Main’s Howick Pakuranga clubmate Jeffrey Arona-Tuifana’e was the other New Zealander in the A finals in the pool, finishing seventh in the 100m breaststroke in 1:04.11 while Masterton’s Ben Ruback was ninth in the 10km open water swim in the famed Waimea Bay.

The New Zealanders also made the A final in all relays, finishing fifth in the women’s 4x100m freestyle and both men’s and women’s 4x100m medley relay and sixth in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay.