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The start of something extraordinary

Kiwi teenage swimming talent take on best at Junior Pan Pacs

Hard on the heels of their senior colleagues, New Zealand’s leading teenage swimming talent compete in the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii starting on Wednesday.

Like the recent senior championships on the Gold Coast, the event draws full strength junior teams from USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, China as well as Pacific and other non-European nations, with swimmers between the ages of 13 to 18 years.

The meet is an important stepping stone for young swimmers who have aspirations towards the Olympic Games in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

“Getting tough international experience is a must at this level and gives our swimmers the opportunity to see what they are up against as they prepare ahead to the senior level of swimming at world championships, Commonwealth Games and Olympics,” said Swimming New Zealand High Performance Development coach, Donna Bouzaid.

Like their senior compatriots, making A Finals will be a significant feat with only four swimmers ranked in the top 10 on qualifying times.

Best is Waikato’s Bradlee Ashby who is ranked sixth in the 100m butterfly (54.79s), as well as ninth in the 400m individual medley (4:26.52) and 10th in the 200m individual medley.

Dunedin’s Andrew Trembath (Neptune) is ranked seventh fastest in the 100m backstroke (56.83), as is Wellington’s Ben Walsh (Porirua City) in the 100m breaststroke (1:02.61).

Hokitika’s George Schroder (AquaGym – Christchurch) is ranked ninth in the 200m breaststroke.

The competition starts in the pool on Wednesday in Kihei on Maui Island with heats from 9am and finals at 5pm at the outdoor facility that hosted the Junior Pan Pacs in 2005, 2007 and 2010.

The 10km open water swim takes place on Sunday 31 August at Ulua Beach over six laps, and will now include a race for the senior Pan Pacs after their event was cancelled on the Gold Coast because of water quality.

The Swimming New Zealand team is:

Liam Albery (Capital, Wellington), Bradlee Ashby (Fairfield, Waikato), Rebekah Bradley (United, Auckland), Carter Edgecombe (Fairfield), Dominic Mildon (Howick Pakaranga, Counties Manukau), George Schroder (Aquagym, Christchurch), Grace Sommerville (Ashburton), Andrew Trembath (Neptune, Dunedin), Ben Walsh (Porirua City) and Julian Weir (Aquabladz, New Plymouth).

Coaches: Craig Albery (Capital), Gennadiy Labara (Neptune), Nevill Sutton (Porirua City) and Sian Allen (Physiologist, HPSNZ), Donna Bouzaid (Team Leader, Swimming New Zealand).