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The start of something extraordinary

Harlequins take out NZ Zonal Swim Championships

The Harlequins, from Northland, Auckland and Counties-Manukau, took the honours in the second New Zealand Zonal Championships at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Auckland tonight.

With the generous support of long time swimming supporter, The Brian Perry Charitable Trust, the Zonal Championships put 160 of New Zealand’s leading and up and coming swimmers against each other in an American-styled collegiate competition.

All regions in New Zealand were divided into four zones to compete in relay formats in two non-stop two hour sessions. Each zone team comprised 40 swimmers split into junior and senior teams.

Olympic swimmer Steven Kent helped lead the way for a high spirited Harlequins team tonight, with his winning swim in the 200m freestyle counting for some valuable extra points as each zone nominates a ‘joker’ that can earn double points for their swim.

“It was a pretty good event, a mix of everything and people like me doing a mix of events they don’t normally do so it was a lot of fun and to chuck in that Legends Relay there in the middle was pretty awesome,” Kent said.

“Two years ago we came last. We didn’t have enough members even last time, so this time to come out and it feels like we dominated a lot of events so it’s pretty awesome to do it for the region.

“For me winning the 200m freestyle was pretty cool because I had the joker on me so I had to step up for the team and win that for the team and I guess also for me the Legends Relay was pretty special.”

The night concluded with swimmers taking part in a 1,000m freestyle relay for all swimmers in the senior and junior divisions.

In the junior relay the South Island Makos managed to hold off the Harlequins who worked their way up from last to second with the help of an impressive leg from Gabrielle Fa’amausili while in the senior relay the Harlequins managed to storm home ahead of the Makos.

The Harlequins, which is made up of swimmers from the Northland, Auckland and Counties-Manukau regions, finished well ahead in the points for the night on 1,978 followed by the Makos (1,750.5), Aquaknights (1678) and the All Stars (1646.5).

Multiple winners in the senior competition included Emma Robinson in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle, Nathan Capp in the 400m and 1500m freestyle, Laura Quilter in the 50m and 100m freestyle, Bradlee Ashby in the 200m and 400m individual medley, George Schroder in the 100m and 200m breaststroke and Helena Gasson in the 100m butterfly, 200m and 400m individual medley.

In the juniors picking up two wins each was Bobbi Gichard, Gabrielle Fa’amausili, Satori Dobbie, Tame Govaerts, Yeonsu Lee (who also got an NZ age group record), Lewis Clareburt and Sam McKenzie while Mya Rasmussen claimed three victories and two New Zealand age group records.

Each team is made up of 10 male and 10 female swimmers in the under 16 competition and the same sized teams in the 16 and over competition.

The Zonal Championships, also included a charity relay that featured many Olympic and Commonwealth Games swim stars from the past as well as Olympic rowing stars Joseph Sullivan and Juliette Drysdale.

The team for Surf Life Saving New Zealand took out the 4x50m freestyle relay, but the star of the night proved to be 97-year-old Kath Johnstone who swam in a team alongside Olympic swimmer Steven Kent.  The teams raised more than $28,000 for their various charities.

Final scores: Harlequins 1978, 1; Makos 1750.5, 2; Aquaknights 1678, 3; All Stars 1646.5, 4.

CAPTION: The winning Harlequins team celebrate their victory.

The image is free for editorial use. Credit: BW Media.

NZ Zonal Championships