Local swimmers impress at champs
Two Sophies and two paraswimmers had an exceptional weekend at the Otago 13-yearsand-over swim champs in Dunedin at the weekend. More than 200 South Island athletes attended the event which also doubles as the Canterbury Championship. Sophie Gibson, 16, of Queenstown had an eight-medal haul, dominating the three backstroke events and collecting gold in the 400m freestyle along with four silvers. She is now preparing for April’s New Zealand Open Championships and Commonwealth Games trials. Wanaka’s Sophie Fairbairn also had a strong outing bringing home two gold, four silver and three bronze medals in the 13-14 age group. Father and Wanaka Swim Club president Richard Fairbairn said that included five personal best times and the open breaststroke trophy over all age groups in Otago. Despite qualifying in two events for the New Zealand opens she would this year compete at the
age-group national instead. ‘‘We think it’s probably a bit early for a 14-year-old. We will probably take her next year.’’ Two other success stories at the champs were para-swimmers Hamish McLean, 14, of Wanaka, who won five gold medals and Ella MacBeth, of Queenstown, who collected two golds. McLean, who was born with dwarfism, broke four under-19 New Zealand para-swimming records and one national open para-swimming record. He is off to Sydney in February with the Kiwi team contesting the New South Wales champs . He was aiming to compete in the Commonwealth Games and Para-Olympics, Fairbairn said.