Winter series to draw crowd

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The Waitaki Aquatic Centre will be swimming with visitors this weekend.

The Oamaru pool is hosting the third round of the Swimming Otago winter tri series, a major event for both the venue, the town and the Oamaru Swim Club.

Organisers estimate about 750 swimmers, officials, coaches, managers and supporters will flood into the Aquatic Centre on Sunday.

“It’s a great opportunity for our region, really,” Oamaru Swim Club president Sonya MacDonald said.

“Our swimmers can get in the water and hopefully get some times on the board to qualify for future events.”

Swimming Otago instigated the region-wide winter tri series a couple of years ago, Macdonald said.

The event is a short-course (25m) meet that offers swimmers the opportunity to qualify for the New Zealand championships in Auckland in October.

Home-pool advantage would be a genuine factor for the crack Oamaru swim squad, Macdonald said.

“Oh, definitely. Very much so. Our swimmers know how the water rolls, and they’ve done those turns time and time again, and used those start blocks.

“Home environment for swimmers is just like a rugby game.”

Oamaru swimmers will also relish another opportunity to challenge the best of the rest in Otago.

“Every time they step up there, they’re trying to beat their personal best, but it’s also good to face the challenge of people beside them on the starting blocks,” Macdonald said.

Racing starts at 10.30am on Sunday, and the last event is expected to be completed by 4.30pm.

Swimming Otago spokeswoman Kerren Keach said the Waitaki Aquatic Centre was a “fantastic surprise to many of our members who attended in 2016”.

Dunedin hosts the winter series championship August 5.