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The start of something extraordinary

Ashby earns first medal for New Zealand at Maui

Waikato’s Bradlee Ashby earned New Zealand first medal on the second night of finals at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii today.

The 18 year old from the Fairfield club in Hamilton won a bronze medal in the 400m individual medley at the PanPacs which has attracted 300 swimmers 18 years and younger from USA, Australia, Japan, Canada, Mexico, China, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Ashby was third fastest in the morning heats in 4:25.58 and went more than two seconds faster in the final, racing home with a powerful freestyle leg to clock 4:23.15. This broke the national age group record for 18 year olds set by Mathew Myers earlier this year in 4:25.11.

Americans Andrew Seliskar (4:16.05) and Curtis Ogren (4:20.34) claimed the gold and silver medals respectively.

The New Zealander is now training at Swimming New Zealand’s High Performance Centre after returning home from a swimming scholarship at The Southport School on the Gold Coast last year.

The 2011 Australian age group champion over the 400m individual medley was third throughout the final but zoomed home in 59.05s for the 100m freestyle leg, the fastest of all finalists.

Teammate Liam Albery (4:33.83) was eighth in the A final of the same race.

Ashby returned to the pool to swim the anchor leg of the 4x200m freestyle relay where the New Zealand quartet of Dominic Mildon (1:52.80), Julian Weir (1:52.16), Carter Edgecombe (1:54.06) and Ashby (1:53.87) combined to finish fifth 7:32.89 in the event won by USA in 7:21.36 ahead of a close battle with Japan and Australia.

West Coast’s George Schroder was the other Kiwi in an A final tonight, finishing sixth in the 100m breaststroke. He was eighth fastest in qualifying in 1:03.66 but improved to 1:02.96 in the final to finish sixth, starting strongly to turn third in 29.33.

This broke Schroder’s own national age group record for 18 years which stood at 1:03.55, set last December.

Teammate Ben Walsh (Porirua City) was seventh in the B final in 1:05.47.

In other swims Weir (51.70) and Mildon (53.01) were fifth and eighth respectively in the B final of the 100m freestyle.

Tomorrow will see Grace Sommerville in the women’s 400m freestyle; Mildon, Edgecombe and Albery in the men’s 400m freestyle; Ashby in the 100m butterfly and Andrew Trembath in the 200m backstroke.

CAPTION: Bradlee Ashby in action. The image is free for editorial use only. Credit: BW Media

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