Clubs chase super status in merger
Tauranga pools resources to keep expertise and be a force on national stage
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
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.