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Swimmers splash out in annual Zonal Championships

The leading New Zealand-based swimmers and the best up-and-comers will join forces in the annual American-styled Zonal Championships in Auckland on Saturday.

Swimmers from all regions in the country are divided into four zones which compete in relay and team formats over two non-stop two hour sessions.

The third Zonal Championships, supported by the Brian Perry Charitable Trust, will be staged on Saturday at the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre at AUT Millennium, with the first session from 5pm and second session from 7.30pm.

Each zone team comprises 40 swimmers split into junior and senior teams, and includes both individual and relay events with the evening programme completed with an all-in flying squadron relay for both junior and senior.

The Harlequins, from Northland, Auckland and Counties-Manukau regions, will look to defend their title from last year. Their senior team includes junior world champion Gabrielle Fa’amausili and Commonwealth Games representatives Ewan Jackson, Laura Quilter and Samantha Lucie-Smith, who has moved north from Wellington.

The Aquaknights team that comprises swimmers from 12 clubs in Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Hawkes Bay Poverty Bay regions, is headed by Youth Olympics medallist Bobbi Gichard and Swimming New Zealand high performance squad swimmer Bradlee Ashby.

The All Stars, from Wellington and Manawatu regions, are led by Junior Pan Pacific swimmers Ben Walsh and Liam Albery and promising age group star Mya Rasmussen.

The inaugural winners, the Makos who represent the South Island, have a strong combination including Olympic hopefuls George Schroder and Kate Godfrey.

The competition also includes the popular Legends Relay with seven teams raising money for the New Zealand Swimming Trust and Alumni Swimming New Zealand.

The teams include former Olympic swimmers Hannah McLean, Corney Swanepoel, Sarah Catherwood, Moss Burmester, Cameron Gibson, Helen Norfolk, Dean Kent, Dylan Dunlop-Barrett, Gary Hurring, Steven Ferguson, Orinoco Fa’amausili-Banse, Jonathan Winter and Monique Banicevich, along with Swimming New Zealand chairman, Bruce Cotterill.

The Zonal Championships will be broadcast live on Sky Sport 4 from 5pm.

CAPTION: Manawatu’s Mya Rasmussen in action for All Stars in last year’s New Zealand Zonal Championships. (Credit: BW Media)

NZ Zonal Championships