Walsh hits the big-time

Whitby swim­mer turns heads at na­tional cham­pi­onships

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

Welling­ton breast­stro­ker Ben Walsh is off to Hawaii in Au­gust, af­ter qual­i­fy­ing for the Pan Pa­cific ju­nior swim­ming cham­pi­onships in New Zealand record time.

Com­pet­ing at the na­tional age­grade cham­pi­onships in Kil­birnie this month, Walsh, just tuned 17, set a na­tional age grade and Welling­ton open record of 1min 02.61s in the 100m breast­stroke – two sec­onds un­der the ju­nior Pan Pacs qual­i­fy­ing time.

Olympian Glenn Sny­der is the only New Zealan­der to have gone faster.

The na­tional age grade champs dou­bled as tri­als for swim­mers to be con­sid­ered for ju­nior Pan Pacs, and the Youth Olympics in China, both in Au­gust.

Walsh, who lives in Whitby and swims for the Porirua City Aquat­ics club, qual­i­fied for both.

He went un­der the 1min 04.79s qual­i­fy­ing time for the Ju­nior Pan Pacs, hav­ing clocked 1min 05.07s in the heat.

He said he was ner­vous be­fore the fi­nal, be­cause the na­tional meet was the sole op­por­tu­nity to qual­ify for the ju­nior Pan Pacs.

‘‘I get ner­vous – I just don’t show it,’’ he said.

‘‘I thought, ‘This is it’. I wanted to go hard out in the first 50 and hold on for the last 50.’’

Walsh also recorded un­der 30 sec­onds for his first 50 me­tres for just his sec­ond time in the event, the first time be­ing just a month ago at the New Zealand open cham­pi­onships.

‘‘The first 50 felt good – I‘m just so stoked, so happy to make the ju­nior Pan Pacs mark.

‘‘I was hop­ing to go the time, but was un­sure af­ter my morn­ing heat. I wasn’t sure I had it in me.’’

His 200m breast­stroke time of 2min 20.40s qual­i­fied him for the Youth Olympics and was just out­side his Welling­ton open record of 2min 19.11s, set last month.

He also set a Welling­ton open record in the 50m, clock­ing 29.00s. The event is not on the pro­gramme at the in­ter­na­tional meets. In his fourth A fi­nal of the na­tion­als, Walsh was sev­enth in the 200m med­ley.

The ju­nior Pan Pa­cific cham­pi­onships in­volve full- strength teams from the Pa­cific Rim in­clud­ing United States, Canada Ja­pan, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Walsh’s coach, Nevill Sut­ton, is one of the coaches in the Pan Pacs team.

Walsh is un­avail­able for the Youth Olympics.

Photo: BW­ME­DIA

Ris­ing fast: Ben Walsh who set the na­tional age swim­ming champs alight.

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