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The start of something extraordinary

Age group swimmers begin strongly in Trans Tasman series

New Zealand swimmers have bagged nine wins after the opening two tests of the Trans Tasman series against Australia in Canberra.

The annual event pits the best young age group swimmers in New Zealand against two teams from Australia in six tests over six days in three venues – Canberra, Wagga Wagga and Melbourne.

The team enjoyed 26 podium places after the first test last night and today’s second encounter at the Australian Institute of Sport facility.

While they narrowly trail the two Australian teams, it is the strongest start the New Zealand team has made to the series since 2007.

Leading the way was Christchurch’s Matthew Hutchins who enjoyed three victories in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle.

Experience proved a key with Hawkes Bay’s Julian Layton (Greendale), along with Hutchins the only swimmers who contested the last Trans Tasman series, grabbing two impressive wins in the 200m and 400m individual medley.

Hutchins (Wharenui) broke the Trans Tasman meet record in winning the 400m freestyle last night in 3:48.44 and narrowly missed the meet record in winning the 200m freestyle in 1:48.76 today.

The sole national age group record went to Auckland’s Rima Williams, 16, (Laser Mt Eden) who clocked 28.82s in the 16 years 50m backstroke.

Today the quartet of Samuel Perry, Julian Weir, Kyle Barnes and Hutchins broke the meet record in the 200m freestyle relay in 1:32.34.

The other wins went to Emily McGill (Capital, Wellington) in the 200m backstroke, George Schroder (Aquagym, Christchurch) in the 200m breaststroke and Rima Williams in the 100m backstroke.

Australia Green lead after two tests on 265 points, with Australia Gold on 222 and New Zealand on 216.

The teams travel to Wagga Wagga in New South Wales for competition tomorrow and Thursday before the final two tests in Melbourne on Friday and Saturday.