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The start of something extraordinary

New Zealand dominate in final medal count in the pool

New Zealand swimmers won seven out of 10 final on the last day of pool competition to take the honours at the Oceania Swimming Championships in Fiji.

The focus now returns to the open water for the 5km swim to conclude the championships today.

The Kiwi team has dominated to claim 51 medals in total including 23 gold medals, to head Australia who finished with 16 gold medals and 43 in all at the Damodar National Aquatic Centre in Suva.

New Zealand made an emphatic start to the final night in the pool, winning the first six finals, led by Julian Weir, Bayley Main, Yeonsu Lee and Annabelle Paterson winning the 400m mixed freestyle relay. Weir (Aquabladz New Plymouth) made a splendid start with a 50.89 opener and the Kiwis never relinquished their advantage to win in 3:36.62.

North Shore’s Monique King was the only swimmer under the nine minute mark, leading from the gun to win the 800m freestyle in 8:53.54.

North Shore swimmers won both men’s and women’s finals in the 200m individual medley with Wilrich Coetzee claiming the men in 2:05.51 from Jonathon Rutter (Roskill, Auckland) who closed to 0.4s of the winner after a strong breaststroke leg. The women’s title went to Helena Gasson in 2:16.95, after leading the whole way.

It was the same story in the 50m freestyle finals with impressive young Howick Pakuranga sprinter Daniel Hunter winning in 22.49s, just 18/100ths of a second outside his own national open record. Hunter had set the Oceania Championship record in the morning’s heats with a time of 22.48.

Gabrielle Fa’amausili (United, Auckland) took the women’s 50m freestyle final in 25.60s, which was 0.6s outside the national open mark.

The other win went to the New Zealand quartet of Fa’amausili, Bronagh Ryan, Gasson and Carina Doyle who won the 400m medley relay in 4:10.88.

The other medals went to Ellie Eastwood (United) and Millie MacDonald (Parnell, Auckland) who were second and third in the 200m breaststroke final in 2:36.10 and 2:37.13 respectively, while New Zealand was second to Australia in the men’s 400m medley relay in 3:44.46 and Rutter finished second equal in the 200m breaststroke in 2:17.13.

The final tally of 51 medals was New Zealand’s best in recent years.