Junior swimmers excel at NZ Festival

The 4x50m relay team - from left Rhys Gjelstad, Finn McNabb, Alfie Price, Katie Marsh, Kyla Thorstensen, Nicola Lovell. Photo supplied.

The Blenheim Swim Club contingent punched well above its weight at the NZ Junior Festival (Mako zone) meet, staged in Timaru recently.

Twelve junior swimmers, plus their coach Jenni Gane, took part in what is essentially the South Island championship for junior swimmers aged 12 years and under, producing some great podium finishes and a string of new personal best times.

Spread over three days, nearly 300 swimmers from across the South Island completed in high intensity racing at the Caroline Bay Trust Aoraki Centre, with swimmers needing to have previously swum qualifying times to enter their events.

Coach Gane was delighted with the team’s performance, stating that the effort and commitment in training during the build-up had really paid off as 82 percent of all swims in Timaru saw new PBs recorded. “As a coach a PB is all you can ask for, anything more than that is just a bonus,” she said.

Among the boys the standout results came from Alfie Price (10) who finished with six first place finishes from his six events, including four unofficial new Nelson Marlborough records, and Rhys Gjelstad (11) who notched seven podium finishes, including two wins.

For the girls, Jessica (12) and Nicola (10) Lovell kept it in the family with identical second and third place podium finishes in the 100 and 50 fly events.

The team relays provided some of the real highlights as the BSC club achieved two podiums against some of the much-larger South Island clubs, including third in the mixed 6x50m freestyle relay and second in the girls 4×50 free relay.

Unfortunately Covid-19 has seen the cancellation of both the National Age Group and Division 2 Championships over the next couple of months as well as all local meets until at least May.

The swimmers will now refocus their goals on the some of the larger meets near the end of the year.

The full team to travel south was: Adian Bennett, Maggie George-Harris, Rhys Gjelstad, Eliza Glover, Sophie Kole, Jessica Lovell, Nicola Lovell, Katie Marsh, Carys McNabb, Finlay McNabb, Alfie Price, Kyla Thorstensen.

Podium results:

Alfie Price (10yr boys) – 1st – 100IM, 50M Free, 200M Free, 50M fly, 200M IM, 100M free

Rhys Gjelstad (11yr boys) – 1st – 200m Breast, 100m Breast, 2nd – 50m Breast, 100IM, 100m Fly, 200IM, 3rd – 200m Free

Jessica Lovell (12yr Girls )– 2nd 100m Fly, 3rd – 50m Fly

Nicola Lovell (10yr Girls) – 2nd 100m fly, 3rd – 50m Fly

Mixed 6×50 Freestyle relay – (1 boy and girl swimmer from each age group) – 3rd –  Nicola Lovell, Alfie Price, Rhys Gjelstad, Katie Marsh, Finn McNabb, Kyla Thorstensen

Girls 12U 4x50m Freestyle relay – 2nd – Jessica Lovell, Eliza Glover, Sophie Kole, Kyla Thorstensen.

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