Even by their own recent high standards, Oamaru swimmers made a heck of a splash at the national junior festival in Timaru at the weekend.

The high-performing squad claimed 34 individual medals between 14 swimmers, and won the overall points competition to earn the status of top South Island junior club for a second straight year.

“It was an amazing experience,” Oamaru Swim Club publicity officer Jan Keeling told the Oamaru Mail

“And it just got more and more exciting. It became a real team event, and it really highlighted what a great team sport swimming can be.

“Being the top club in the South Island means a lot to us.”

Winning the overall title again highlighted the phenomenal work being done by Oamaru coach Narcis Gherca, Keeling said.

“Every other club in the top six at the festival has at least two or three coaches. It’s a reflection of how good Narcis is. We did exceptionally well for a small club with one coach.”

Oamaru swimmers won 13 gold, 10 silver and 11 bronze medals, while Elenoa Asi (11), Imogen Keeling (12), Daniel Gilbert (12) and Samuel Petrie (11) combined to win two silver relay medals.

Asi had an outstanding meet with 10 individual medals (including five gold) from 11 races. Each of her medal swims was also a personal best with a top effort of knocking 6.62sec off her 200m backstroke time.

Gemma Green (11) won three golds, one silver and one bronze at her first national event, carving 4.71sec off her 100m medley time.

Petrie won two individual golds, two silvers and two bronzes, slashing 6.62sec off his 200m medley time and 5.92sec off his 200m freestyle time, while Morgan Baillie (10) won gold in the 100m (PB by 5.66sec) and 50m (2.87sec) breaststroke, and silver in the 100m backstroke (5.12sec) at his first national event.

Gilbert and Imogen Keeling showed their experience. Keeling swam to four individual medals (two silver, two bronze) and slashed 4.70sec off her 200m medley time, while Gilbert saved his best for last with a massive 16.93sec personal best to win gold in the 200m butterfly.

Deegan Croucher (9), the youngest member of the team, capped her first junior festival with a bronze medal in her last race, the 200m medley, smashing her personal best by 8.16sec.

Corbin Fraser had two fourths in the boys 12 years grade, posting a 15.62sec improvement in the 200m breaststroke.

In the 12-years girls racing, Kari Croucher had the single biggest team PB, carving 21.85sec off her 400m freestyle time, Jorgia McDiarmid-Jones had seven PBs in her nine events, and Molly Whittaker had two top-10 finishes.

Jessie Bayley (11) had top-10 finishes in two breaststroke events, while rookies Lloyd Fellowes and Olli McDiarmid-Jones (10 years boys) had a good taste of top-level racing.

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