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Mayfair Pools Oceania Championships – Day 2 Wrap

Two terrific teens are set to play a starring role in New Zealand swimming’s future after another outstanding duel on the second night of finals at the Mayfair Pools Oceania Championships in Auckland tonight.

World junior champion Gabrielle Fa’amausili edged out kiwi teammate and fellow 14-year-old Bobbi Gichard in the 50m backstroke final in record time at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Henderson.

The pair helped New Zealand to another excellent night, winning six of the finals while main rivals Australia won five.

This leaves the hosts ahead with 12 titles to Australia’s 10, assisted with a dominant win by the Kiwi men’s 4x200m freestyle relay that was reversed after Mathew Stanley was adjudged to break in the first leg.

The 10th Oceania Championships has attracted 175 competitors from 14 nations for the pool and synchronised swimming competition until Friday.

Fa’amausili (Auckland) and Gichard (Hawkes Bay) have been the closest of rivals in record-setting swims since they were 12 and they want that rivalry to push them both on to the podium at the Olympics in the future.

“The Olympics is the big aim. It would be awesome to share that experience with my long time teammate and to have us both on the podium,” Fa’amausili said.

“We started competing against each other at 12 in the 100m back at national age groups when I won and Gabby was second but it was close. It is good to have competition in the same age as you,” Gichard said.

Fa’amausili believes the competition between the two is pushing them both to improve, and at the same time they are developing a friendly rivalry.

“It is really good to have someone the same speed and the same age. It is good competition and we push each other. And it’s good practice for when we go overseas to the Youth Olympics later this year where we will race each other again.

“It is cool because we get to go away together. We get on well. I support her if she wins and she supports me if I win. We are good teammates.”

Fa’amausili got up to win the 50m backstroke in 28.77s, which broke Liz Coster’s 2008 Oceania Championship record.

Gichard was second in 29.16, close to her best, with the pair then swimming the opening legs of the mixed medley relay, with Fa’amausili’s team winning and Gichard’s Kiwi team third.

New Zealand’s individual wins tonight went to Commonwealth Games rep Tash Hind in the 400m individual medley, Nathan Capp from Swimming New Zealand’s High Performance Centre in the men’s 400m individual medley, Fa’amausili in the 50m backstroke, Beckie Dooley and Ben Walsh in their respective 100m breaststroke finals.

The Australians claimed individual titles in the men’s 50m backstroke to last night’s 100m winner Nicholas Groenewald, the outstanding Ami Matsuo with another Oceania Championship record this time in the 100m freestyle and equally impressive 15 year old Kyle Chalmers in the men’s 100m freestyle.

New Zealand came from behind with a powerful final leg by the experienced Cameron Simpson to win the mixed 4x50m medley relay, while Australia triumphed in both 4x200m freestyle relays.

Australia edged in front by the midway mark in the women’s race, going on to win in 8:05.12, more than five seconds under the Oceania Championship record.

New Zealand cleared out in the men’s 4x200m freestyle with their 7:20.59 also five seconds under the championship record, but with their disqualification, Australia claimed the honours in 7:34.84.

The championship continues until Friday.

CAPTION:  Close friends and record-breaking rivals, Gabrielle Fa’amausili (left) and Bobbi Gichard. Photo credit: BW Media.