Oamaru swimmers more than held their own against the big guns from around New Zealand at the national age group championships in Wellington last week.

The squad finished with 14 top-10 placings, a creditable effort against the cream of New Zealand junior swimming.

All of the Oamaru swimmers performed with credit but the rock stars were two of the girls, Iessha Mansfield and Alice Petrie, both of whom competed in the 12-13 years class.

Mansfield showed her class by winning two bronze medals, in the 50m and 100m freestyle, and added fourth in the 200m freestyle and fifth in the 400m freestyle, improving her best time in the long race by 5.17sec.

The observer . . . Oamaru coach Narcis Gherca looks on intently. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Petrie claimed the Oamaru squad’s third medal, claiming bronze in the 200m butterfly, improving her personal best by 3.63sec. She held her nerve as the final came down to a thrilling finish, winning bronze by 0.66sec. Petrie had two other top-10 finishes, sixth in the 200m medley and 10th in the 100m butterfly.

Mansfield’s older sister, Tiana (girls 15 years), showed consistent form in backstroke, finishing fourth in the 100m, fifth in the 200m and seventh in the 50m.

Micah Hayes (boys 14 years) was unlucky not to claim double bronze, finishing fourth in both the 400m (by 0.59sec) and 1500m freestyle, delivering his biggest time improvement (6.81sec) in the latter.

Charlie Gilbert slashed a whopping 15.12sec off his 1500m freestyle time in the same year group, finishing 12th.

In the girls 12-13 grade, Penny Keeling showed her versatility to place seventh in the 400m medley and 11th in the 800m freestyle, and Abbey Wilson had a best placing of 17th in the 800m freestyle.

Tandia Gooch (16) faced tough opposition in the 16-18 years group, which included swimmers trialling for the Commonwealth Games. Her best results came in the 800m (18th) and 400m (22nd) freestyle.

Oamaru Swim Club president Sonya Macdonald, who attended the event, was immensely proud of the squad.

“It was a fantastic effort by all our swimmers,” Macdonald said.

“To come away with so many top-20 placings in New Zealand is pretty impressive for our wee bunch from down here. We definitely punch well above our weight on the national scene.”

Half a length . . . Oamaru swimmer Micah Hayes (white cap) competes in the New Zealand age group championships in Wellington. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
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