Clubs chase su­per sta­tus in merger

Tau­ranga pools re­sources to keep ex­per­tise and be a force on na­tional stage

Bay of Plenty Times - - SPORT - Kristin Macfar­lane

THREE Tau­ranga swim­ming clubs are merg­ing in a bid to cre­ate one su­per club and be­come more com­pet­i­tive on a na­tional level.

As of Mon­day, Greer­ton and Otu­moetai ¯ swim­ming clubs, which are two of the big­gest and most suc­cess­ful clubs in the city, along with the strug­gling Tau­ranga club will of­fi­cially merge and be­come Evo­lu­tion Aquat­ics Tau­ranga.

Michael Pugh, who is the Greer­ton Swim Club chair­man and will take on the act­ing chair­man role of the new club, says the idea to merge had been around for many years, and he be­lieves it will be a way to strengthen their place na­tion­ally.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited,” Pugh says.

“We’re po­si­tion­ing our­selves to be re­ally, re­ally com­pet­i­tive on a na­tional scale,” he says.

Greer­ton and O¯ tu­moetai are very suc­cess­ful clubs that are “go­ing in equal” and merg­ing with Tau­ranga, “who have fallen on hard times”, will be ben­e­fi­cial for ev­ery­one in­volved, he says

“It is an evo­lu­tion in Tau­ranga . . . al­ways evolv­ing.

“We’re re­ally just try­ing to move with the times.”

What it will mean, he says, is that one club — Evo­lu­tion Aquat­ics Tau­ranga — will have a high rep­re­sen­ta­tion of com­pet­i­tive ath­letes who will be able to have im­proved train­ing ses­sions.

He says in­stead of Greer­ton or Otu­moetai ¯ hav­ing “five or six as a very high level we’ll have 10 or 15”.

“We do have a load of re­ally good ath­letes.”

This will, in turn, he says, cre­ate “more com­pe­ti­tion in train­ing, and more ca­ma­raderie and friend­ship”.

The merger will also pro­vide more sup­port for coach­ing staff to gain in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, with em­pha­sis on keep­ing qual­ity coaches in the city, Pugh says.

The Greer­ton head coach is Tai Daniella, and the O¯ tu­moetai head coach is Mike Lee — and un­der the new club they will take on the joint head coach­ing po­si­tions.

“We’re go­ing to re­ally look after

"It is an evo­lu­tion in Tau­ranga . . . al­ways evolv­ing. We’re re­ally just try­ing to move with the time" Michael Pugh

our coaches.”

Pugh says Daniella has had a chance to coach in­ter­na­tional squads but has been forced to turn the op­por­tu­ni­ties down be­cause there hasn’t been any­one to take over his day-to-day roles.

The merger will pro­vide more sup­port to the coaches, al­low­ing them to at­tain in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, which will help de­velop their coach­ing abil­i­ties and feed that back into the lo­cal ath­letes, Pugh says. “It’s a win-win.” There will also be some flex­i­bil­ity as to which of the three pools mem­bers can use.

The ex­ist­ing ju­nior devel­op­ment coach at Greer­ton is Ric­cardo Pini, and he will con­tinue his role with the new club, with a fourth ju­nior coach also join­ing the team.

While the new Evo­lu­tion Aquat­ics Tau­ranga plans to of­fer a na­tional club pro­gram, it also will ex­pand their Learn to Swim pro­gram, which will be in­tro­duced at the Dave Hume Pool in Katikati this com­ing sea­son.

One of the club mem­bers, 15-year-old Travis Hud­son, is look­ing for­ward to the merger and what it will be able to do for him in his sport.

“It should be good we’re pretty close with the Otu­moetai Club al­ready, but it should be good to be all to­gether — a big­ger team,” the Tau­ranga Boys’ Col­lege stu­dent said.

“It will be good be­cause we’ll have more sup­port for all of our races,” he said.

Hud­son is head­ing off to Aus­tralia this week­end to rep­re­sent New Zealand at the 2018 Aus­tralian State Teams Cham­pi­onships be­tween Oc­to­ber 3-5 in Can­berra, Aus­tralia. He is rep­re­sent­ing the Greer­ton club, along with Louis Fitzjohn. A third West­ern Bay swim­mer, Molly Shiv­nan from the Mount Maun­ganui Swim­ming Club, is also rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand at the com­pe­ti­tion.

This will be Hud­son’s first in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion and will be com­pet­ing in the 50m, 100m and 200m breast­stroke events, the 400m IM and the 100m freestyle events.

“It’s real ex­cit­ing just com­pet­ing un­der the flag,” Hud­son said.

“I’ll be real ner­vous on the first day but should be good when I do good races, hav­ing a big team be­hind me.”

Hud­son cur­rently holds two Bay of Plenty short course records for the 14-year-old boys in the 50m breast­stroke with a time of 30.96 sec­onds and 200m breast­stroke with a time of 2min and 27.16 sec­onds.

He also hopes to gain three more records for 15-year-old boys in his breast­stroke events in Aus­tralia next week.

“I turn 16 straight after Aus­tralia, so hope­fully I can get three Bay records in Aus­tralia.”

Those records cur­rently stand at 30.35 sec­onds for the 50m; 1min, 6.28 sec­onds in the 100m and 2min, 25.75 sec­onds in the 200m race and Hud­son is feel­ing con­fi­dent. “I feel like I can do it.” Ul­ti­mately though, Hud­son, who has been swim­ming for about five years, says his goal for the com­pe­ti­tion is to “be the best I can be”.


Otu­moetai and Greer­ton club mem­bers who are merg­ing with the strug­gling Tau­ranga Swim Club, from left, Travis Hud­son, 15, Anais Mag­ner, 17, Mia Pugh, 17, Daniel Shana­han, 15, and Bianca En­right, 12.

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