Coach splash happy

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Budding Olympians from Dunedin and an Australian swim team couldn’t drag Queenstown swimmers under at a local meet last weekend.

Forty-seven local swimmers dominated the Queenstown Swim Club’s biggest annual competition – the Early Bird swim meet – to take top honours over Dunedin’s Neptune Swim Club and Invercargill’s Orca Swimming Club.

QSC earned 1172 points, followed by Neptune (974) and Orca (374).

Highly regarded Neptune, rated fifth-best club in New Zealand, had a 14-strong squad of Olympic hopefuls doing intensive training at Alpine Aqualand last week before the meet.

They’ve been swimming under the watchful eye of head coach Gennadiy Labara, who previously worked with the country’s highest-achieving swimming coach, the late Duncan Laing.

“Gennadiy said [the competition] was a very good way for his swimmers to finish their week,” QSC head coach Frank Wylie says.

“They were very prominent as well but we probably picked up more points because we were able to contest all the age groups, whereas they had swimmers more from the age of 12 and up.

“Maybe some of the Neptune swimmers were just a little bit tired after the training,” he jokes.

A strong club visiting from the central coast of New South Wales also looked “prominent” but had to leave early to fly out of Queens­­-town on Saturday afternoon – they finished fifth.

Wylie’s proteges earned 29 wins, 32 second placings and 30 thirds.

Standouts were Sophie Gibson, 11, who swam two junior national qualifying times for 50 metres and 200m backstroke.

Rebekah Paul, 12, Rhiannon Waite, 8, and Cameron Moran, 8, were crowned age-group champions based on their points.

McGregor Fea, 17, and Marc Lemaire-Sicre, 16, tied on points to become joint 15-and-over champs.

The meet, in its third year, attracted 180 swimmers from 15 mostly-southern clubs.
QSC’s success meant it was able to claim the Early Bird shield and $300 cash prize – both new to the competition this year.

“It was a really successful meet,” says Wylie, who coaches competitive swimmers eight times a week.

“The credit should go to the swimmers and also to a very hard-working committee – they’re always trying to make the competition more interesting for other teams to attend.”