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The start of something extraordinary


Over three hundred swimmers will compete next week in the 2018 Aon New Zealand Open Championships at Auckland’s Sir Owen G. Glenn National Aquatic Centre.

The meet is headlined by Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Lewis Clareburt (Capital), who is top seed in four of his five individual events.

The 18-year-old Wellingtonian will compete in the men’s 100m, 400m freestyle, 200m butterfly and the 200m, 400m individual medley.

Clareburt says his focus is on August’s Pan Pacific Championships.

“I haven’t tapered yet, so Opens is a chance for me to have a hit out before heading off to Pan Pacs in Tokyo.”

Clareburt also added, “I’ve been working on some new skills with my coach (Gary Hollywood), so I’m looking forward to testing them out next week.”

The event has also attracted 21 international swimmers from Australia, Philippines, Japan, Mexico, Fiji, Slovakia, Samoa and the Cook Islands.

The championships are qualification events for the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, Junior Pan Pacific Championships and Youth Olympic Games.

Emma Robinson (Capital) who is aiming for Pan Pacs qualification is also favourite to win three titles in the women’s 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle events.

The match-up between Robinson and Northland’s Hayley McIntosh (Northwave) in all three events will be one to keep an eye on.

A total of 25 Para swimmers will compete at the Championships.

The spotlight will be on Howick Pakuranga’s Tupou Neiufi, Mary Fisher (Capital), Celyn Edwards (Selwyn) and Tama Solouota (HPK).

The meet is the final opportunity for New Zealand Para swimmers to qualify for selection for the Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships in Cairns.

Sophie Pascoe will miss the meet as she is currently training in Europe.

The men’s 100m freestyle is shaping up to be a highlight of the meet.

Daniel Hunter (HPK) is the top seed in the men’s field ahead of Sam Perry (St Peter’s), Corey Main (HPK) and Clareburt.

The top seeds will need to be weary of fifteen-year old Michael Pickett (North Shore) and Tyron Henry (HPK), 16, who have both shown huge improvements over the last twelve months.

In January, Pickett moved to Brisbane to train at Aussie powerhouse club St Peter’s Western.

The move has seen Pickett become the fastest age group sprinter in Australasia. Pickett won the boys 15 years 50m freestyle at the Australian age-group championships, in an impressive 23.18s, just a 0.4s off his NZ age group record.

Former world youth gold medallist and 2009 World Championship representative Kurt Bassett (Mt Eden), is back competing again after taking a break from the sport.

At 18 years old, Bassett became the first New Zealander to swim under two minutes in the 200m backstroke. Now 28, Bassett will be competing in the men’s 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke against favourites and brothers Bailey and Corey Main (HPK).

In what could be the ‘inspirational’ story of the event, 46-year-old Shelley Rowland (TBSS Central City) is the oldest competitor at the championships.

Rowland who also competed at the 2017 Open Championships will line up in the women’s 50m butterfly.

Swimming New Zealand CEO Steve Johns is excited for the week of competition.

“We are really excited to welcome our national and international swimmers to the 2018 Aon NZ Open Championships. There will be an impressive line-up of talent competing next week and with the event being a qualification meet, I’m sure we’ll see some very fast times.”

Johns also added Swimming New Zealand have invested in improving the delivery of live streaming.

“The championships will feature a graphics system that is used internationally, and our team have worked very hard to ensure our online audience is treated to a quality production. Audiences will be able to view the live stream via SNZ Facebook, YouTube and The New Zealand Herald.

The 2018 Aon NZ Open Championships are being held at the Sir Owen G. Glenn National Aquatic Centre, Auckland, from 2 - 6 July.

Morning sessions start at 10am with evening finals sessions starting at 7pm.