Record numbers . . . Waitaki Aquatic Centre co-ordinator Simon Terry is looking forward to getting the South Island Secondary School Canoe Polo Championships under way today. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Oamaru has become a hub for secondary school canoe polo.

For the ninth consecutive year, the South Island Secondary School Canoe Polo Championships are being held in Oamaru. The three›day competition gets under way today at the Waitaki Aquatic Centre.

This year’s event has attracted a record 22 teams from across the South Island, including Invercargill, Nelson, Christchurch and Central Otago. Three teams from Napier Boys’ High School are also travelling to Oamaru for the competition, after being invited to take part.

Waitaki Aquatic Centre co-ordinator Simon Terry said the championships were always a great event for Oamaru, despite the North Otago town having no local secondary school teams entered.

‘‘Canoe polo is a popular sport that North Otago spectators do not often get to see,’’ Terry said.

‘‘We look forward to hosting new teams to Oamaru this year. We hope that the teams will have a bit of time to enjoy the activities and attractions around Oamaru between competition events.’’

Waitaki Aquatic Centre facility manager Matthew Lanyon said it was great to host the competition again.

The aquatic centre had formed a ‘‘good working relationship’’ with the competition organisers, providing them with a ‘‘complete package’’ for accommodation, food and activity options.

‘‘It’s also, I think, a great tick for Oamaru being central in the South Island. A lot of the teams do come from quite a long way because we are relatively central,’’ Lanyon said.

‘‘I think it’s great for Oamaru. Lots of people coming in, economic benefits are good for obviously the pool, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg for all the other dollars that are spent in the region.’’

The competition gets under way today at 1pm and runs until 9pm. Tomorrow’s games run from 7.15am to 9pm and on Sunday, games will be played from 7.15am to 4pm.

The main pool will be closed to the public from 11am today until Sunday 5pm. The children’s pool and spa will still be open for the public.
The competition is free for the community to watch.