New Zealand team heads to Samoa for Oceania Championships

New Zealand swim team chases success at Oceania Championships

A strong New Zealand team of 20 swimmers will fly out today to compete in the eighth Oceania Championships starting in Samoa on Monday.

The team will take on swimmers from 12 other countries in the six-day championships which forms a key development tool for New Zealand Swimming. Teams are competing from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Northern Marianas, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa, hosts of the championships.

The biennial championships form an important stepping stone for the Swimming New Zealand team including some proven performers and promising talent for the future.

“There’s a good mix in the team of swimmers with experience who just missed out on Commonwealth Games selection as well as some of our very best young age group competitors who we want to nurture towards world championships and Olympics,” said head coach Thomas Ansorg.

“These championships give them a real taste of quality international competition and that experience is vital in their development.”

Four members of the youth squad at the last Oceania Championships two years ago have been selected for the Commonwealth Games and one competed in last year’s world championships.

“The Oceania championships are an important stepping stone in our swimming pathway.”

The team is headed by the experienced North Shore swimmer Andrew McMillan, who competed in the world championships and narrowly missed Commonwealth Games selection. Others in that category include his North Shore team-mates Jessie Blundell (backstroke) and US-based New Zealander Nick Ferrif (breaststroke).

Rotorua’s Kane Radford, former US College open water swimmer, is focussed on the distance swims in the pool in Samoa with the open water represented by Auckland’s Phillip Ryan (Waterhole), the national 5km champion.

There is plenty of promising young talent including talented Christchurch 14-year-old Sophia Batchelor (Aquagym, Christchurch) and water polo convert Luke Westgaard (United, Auckland).

Southland sisters Caitlin and Kristin Anderson are competing in the synchronised swimming, as they chase qualification for the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

The championships begin with the 5km open water titles at the Faleasui course on Monday, with pool competition at the superb Tuanaimato Aquatic Centre in Apia on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with the open water 10km on Thursday.

The New Zealand team is:

Sophia Batchelor (Aqua Gym, Christchurch), Clair Benson (Capital, Wellington), Shaun Burnett (North Shore), Jessie Blundell (North Shore), Dylan Dunlop-Barrett (Bell Block, Taranaki), Nick Ferrif (North Shore), Grace Francis (North Shore), Steven Kent (United, Auckland), Samantha Lee (Capital), Samantha Lucie-Smith (Karori Pirates, Wellington), Andrew McMillan (North Shore), Lisa Pankhurst (Collegiate, Invercargill), Laura Quilter (Comet, Gisborne), Kane Radford (Rotorua), Phillip Ryan (Waterhole, Auckland), Hannah Saunders (QEII, Christchurch), Matthew Stanley (North Shore), Renee Stothard (Howick Pakuranga), Luke Westgaard (Roskill), Charlotte Webby (Bell Block)

Coaches: Thomas Ansorg (head coach), Philip Rush (open water), Leanne Speechley (Aquagym), Sue Southgate (Bell Block), Manager: Kay Alexander.

For further information contact:

IAN HEPENSTALL
Media Liaison, Swimming NZ High Performance
Sports Media NZ Ltd
Tel +64 9 2327822
Mob +64 275613181
E: ian@sportsmedianz.com
Skype: kiwiheps




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