SHARE
Fab four . . . The Oamaru girls 12 and under relay team (from left): Deegan Croucher, Jessie Bayley, Kari Croucher and Tarona Taafaki. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Oamaru swimmers are in good nick ahead of the big Makos festival next weekend.

The Canterbury 12 and under championships, Otago-Canterbury 13 years and over championships and Wellington championships – all held in January – gave the town’s elite young swimmers a chance to post qualifying times and warm up for a heavy schedule ahead.

At the Canterbury 12 and under championships in Ashburton, an 11-strong Oamaru team claimed 26 medals.

One of the star performers was Tarona Taafaki (11), who previously swam with Oamaru before having a year in Australia.

Back in Oamaru colours, Taafaki won medals in all 11 of her individual events – one gold, four silver and six bronze – and was part of a freestyle relay team that won bronze.

Taafaki had seven personal bests, including sterling efforts in the 200m freestyle (9.93sec improvement) and 200m medley (9.43sec).

On the podium . . . Oamaru swimmer Levi Heffernan with one of his three gold medals at the Canterbury 12 and under championships in Ashburton recently. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Levi Heffernan (10) also won medals in all of his individual races with three golds and one silver, three claimed with personal best times.

Heffernan moves up an age group for the Makos festival but will carry good times through and will be one to watch.

Samuel Petrie (12) won two gold medals over 400m, in freestyle and medley, and Deegan Croucher (10) grabbed medals (three silver, one bronze) from all four of her races, setting best times in all four with a best improvement of 2.06sec in the 50m breaststroke.

Hanna Strachan (10) claimed gold in the 200m breaststroke and posted two personal bests, and Lloyd Fellowes (11) pocketed silver in the 200m backstroke and bronze in the 200m medley.

Golden glow . . . Hannah Strachan accepts her gold medal. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

In the relays, Oamaru won one medal and nearly added a second.

The 12 and under girls soared to bronze in the 200m freestyle relay, and a very young 12 and under boys team did well to finish fourth in the 200m freestyle.

Other swimmers did not manage to win individual medals but still showed promise.

Jessie Bayley (12) posted personal bests in all four of her races with a best improvement of 5.55sec in the 100m backstroke; Adriana Dowling (10) had personal bests in all five of her races with a best improvement of 4.90sec in the 100m medley; Eric Strachan (9) had four personal bests, including a 6.79sec improvement in the 100m medley; and Isla Harrington (12) improved in five of her six races, posting a whopping 11.78sec improvement in the 200m freestyle.

At the Otago-Canterbury long-course championships at Moana Pool, eight Oamaru swimmers collected seven medals (two gold, three silver and two bronze) and posted 15 personal bests.

Charlie Gilbert (14) led the way with medals in three freestyle events – 100m (gold), 400m (gold) and 1500m (silver) – and improved five of his times.

Iessha Mansfield (14) and Danny Gilbert (13) each grabbed a silver medal, in the 100m freestyle and 200m butterfly respectively, and Molly Whittaker (13) and Halalova Asi (14) added bronze medals.

Three Oamaru swimmers attended the Wellington championships.

Penny Keeling (14) and Rhys Charles (13) each had two fourth placings and Imogen Keeling (13) had three top-10 placings. For all, it was a valuable opportunity to get some tough competition.

The Makos festival in Dunedin is one of four regional meets that replace national junior events.

Following the Makos, some Oamaru swimmers will attend the national division two championships in Rotorua (March) and the national long-course age group championships in Auckland (April).