Western Melbourne Propulsion swimmers Jack Morrow, Tom Sutherland, Cambell Wilson Moran, and I, were selected to represent Victoria to compete at the New Zealand Tri-series in Hawkes Bay Hastings, NZ.
Our team consisted of 9 boys and 9 Girls, 14 – 18 years old along with 4 coaches and 2 team managers, Nic Baker and Jenny Lawton from swimming Victoria.
We met at the airport on Monday 25th at 4.30 am for our all-day trip to Napier via Auckland. We eventually arrived at our accommodation around 6.30 pm which was at Lindisfarne College in Hastings. The accommodation was Dormitory style and we each had a small room in a communal space.
All the teams from New Zealand and Western Australia were staying at the school with us. All teams would have their meals together and on the first night we had a Trivia Comp in mixed teams. The teams were supposed to include 3 Vics, 3 WA and 3 NZ which helped encourage us to get to know some people from other teams.
Tuesday, day after we arrived, we got to train in the Hawkes Bay Aquatic centre to see where we were competing for the next three days. A designated recovery session, however some would argue otherwise.
Our first day of competition was on the Wednesday at the aquatic centre which was about a 5 minute bus ride from where were staying. Each session was called a match and we had 5 matches in total. Morning and Afternoon on the first 2 days followed by the 5th Match on the Friday.
The start of the meet was a bit different to your normal meet as we had the New Zealand team greet us with a very loud rendition of the Haka which is a famous Māori Ceremonial dance. It was very loud, vigorous and a lot of feet stamping. A great way to warm up!
The matches saw each competitor performing 2 individual events and 1 relay. We were swimming for points 24 for a win down to 2 for 10th place. There was also a lot of emphasis on race skills and bonus points were up for grabs if you did the skills correctly e.g. 5 points for no breathing the last 10+ metres of 50 and 100 freestyle/Fly; 5 points for negative splitting an 800 / 1500; 5 points for a roll (crossover)turn on Back/Breast of the 100 Medley; 5 points for a last turn head breakout of 10+ metres in the Backstroke events.
The last match on the Friday was a bit different where we had our 4 x 100 relays followed by some very exciting 50m skins races. The skins race involved the bottom 2 swimmers being eliminated in each 50m sprint. Each 50m was on a 2 minute interval which made it almost impossible to keep backing up 50’s with good times. Through these skins races the New Zealand Black dominated while Victoria also performed well.
The last event of the meet was a team relay, 18 X 50 and our coaches told us that for Victoria to win the Series we had to win the relay. All 18 of us Victorians gave it everything and we were behind the NZ Black team right up until the last 50m, however we were able to just out touched them. As a team we were struck with excitement because we thought we needed that to win the Tri-Series, however, we found out later that it counted for no points, and Victoria had already won with 2393 points, 2nd New Zealand Black – 2257, 3rd NZ white 1676 and 4th Western Australia 1440 points.
We celebrated our win with a special dinner at a restaurant in Hastings on our last night. Followed by a very early flight back to Melbourne in time to watch the Grand final. Overall, it was a fantastic event and a great opportunity for the team and I to develop my skills and learn through meeting the different coaches, getting to know my Victorian teammates better and the chance to meet, compete and learn from swimmers from Western Australia and New Zealand was invaluable.
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