Sundevils backstroker books flight to worlds
On the cusp of representing her country, Emma Godwin is “super excited” to have booked a flight with the New Zealand contingent of swimmers to the 14th Fina World Short Course Championship in China in December.
But Godwin expects the nerves to start jangling a little, too, as the 25m pool event in Hangzhou from December 11-16 approaches.
“It’s super exciting to be travelling overseas for international competitions,” says the Sundevils [Hastings] member, whose previous meetings abroad were a couple of Aussie state championships under the club banner.
The 21-year-old is recuperating from an injured shoulder through overuse but she received the thumbs up from the national selectors last week after coming away with a gold, silver and bronze medal each from the five-day New Zealand Short Course Championship in Auckland, which lured more than 900 swimmers from New Zealand, US, Tahiti, Australia, Fiji and the Cook Islands.
Godwin also smashed two Hawke’s Bay-Poverty Bay records in the open 100m backstroke (59.19s) and open 50m backstroke (27.73s) races staged at the Sir Owen G. Glenn National Aquatic Centre.
It goes without saying intensity was a given for the the Sundevils member over the 50m backstroke distance where Auckland teenager Kyla Alexander clocked 27.65s to smash former junior world champion Gabrielle Fa’amausili’s 17 years national age-group record of 27.73s, which Godwin equalled.
“When you’re competing against someone who’s that fast, it adds more to the race,” she says, treating it as “bonus”.
Not a specialist in that distance, Godwin was delighted to find herself on the podium and with a HBPB record to add to her CV.
The former Iona College pupil, born in Gisborne, spent three years studying at Massey University in Auckland and is in her final semester of a sport and recreation degree via correspondence.
For someone who gravitates towards 200m events, Godwin uses the 50m event as a discipline to brush her technique and bring her up to speed for the longer distance.
In Hangzhou, she will compete in the 200 backstroke event after clocking 2m 7.48s at the nationals for gold to add to her long-course nationals in July.
She is indebted to Sundevils coach Willie Benson for honing her skills.
“It’s good to have someone who has as much knowledge as he does and to be able to get his experience and understanding of racing under his belt.”
Godwin took to the pool from an early age.
While she has the support of both parents, she points out the swimming genes come from her mother, Prue Younger, not father Rob Godwin.
“I’ve definitely got mum’s talent,” she says of Younger, who swims for fitness and encouraged her into the competitive arena when she was 10.
Jake Stephens, of Napier Aquahawks, returned with seven medals out of his eight races at the nationals.
Stephens claimed four golds, two silvers and a bronze. Akin to Godwin, the 13-year-old from Lindisfarne College smashed two gender age-group HBPB records in the 100m backstroke (1.02.20) and 200m backstroke (2.13.71) events.
His gold medals came in the 400 individual medley (5.04.94), 100 backstroke (1.02.20, club record), 200m butterfly (2.21.08) and 50m backstroke (29.26).
Stephens is “stoked” with his spoils after going in with an attitude of que sera sera.
“I’ve just been more relaxed and didn’t put tooo much pressure on myself,” he says, revealing Benson “has been a great role model” with advice.
The teenager says he was fast losing motivation with swimming at Aquahawks so he approached Benson, who was the ideal catalyst in trying to keep him in the sport.
Stephens says he wasn’t really clicking with new Aquahawks coach Phil Melhuish.
He’ll end his five-year membership with Aquahawks with the last outing at the Greendale Swim Club meeting today.
Stephens, who is indebted to his school and mother Karrie for their help, will now focus on the national age-group championship early next year.
Matthew Sexton, 16, of Sundevils, claimed gold in 100m backstroke (58.53) while Ella Jamieson, of Central Hawke’s Bay, was the other HBPB record breaker in the 17 years’ female 50m breaststroke race (33.05).
Results below, left
and vice-captain and halfback Campbell Rodgers led their side with aplomb. Utility Oliver Beale, prop George Hancy and hooker Maddox Lui were others to shine in a team which had no passengers.
Beale scored a try and kicked a conversion. Lui and No 8 Charlie Nash also scored tries.
Solenis NZ Napier West beat Countdown Hastings West 28-12 in the playoff for third. Busy No 8 Ben Campbell and lock Harry Keighley were an inspirational pair in the Napier West pack. Alex Barra, vice-captain Carter Frame-Tavita, Jontay Ferguson and Lucas Stok scored Napier West’s tries and Jacob Cotter kicked four conversions.
Hastings West coach Craig Wellington said his troops produced another gutsy effort and he was proud of the way they improved throughout the tournament.
Tims Construction Saracens beat Tumu ITM Dannevirke 17-0 in the playoff for fifth. Fred Laugeson was again prominent for Saracens in both the lock and second fiveeighth positions.
His physicality levels were admirable and his defence rocklike. Winger Kane Ngawhare, who scored two tries, and blindside flanker James Dowley were others to shine.
Centre Aidan Cairns scored Saracens’ other try and first fiveeighth Jack McFetridge kicked a conversion.
Locks Te Ariki Tangiwai and Lane Small joined No 8 Dougal Radford as the pick of the Dannevirke players. Their coach, Lincoln Barnes, was thrilled with the side’s efforts throughout the week in their first appearance at the tournament and pointed out Dannevirke would be back next year.
Emma Godwin and Jake Stephens set the tone for HBPB at the nationals last week. The others are Arabella Smith (back row, left), Alena Kamper, Mahina Ross, Sarah-Kate Birkett, Trent Kamper and Matthew Sexton.