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‘Small but mighty’ crew for pool rescue champs

A SMALLER-than usual contingent of Gisborne athletes has headed to Auckland for the New Zealand Surf Life Saving Pool Rescue Championships but they should bring home some medals.

Riversun Wainui will have four athletes competing, Dawson Building Midway five and Kaiaponi Farms Waikanae just one.

Gisborne club development officer Sonia Keepa said the athletes had been training for a while, and their time trials were on track with what other competitors around the country had been doing.

“There are some strong medal chances for Gisborne. We might have a small team but we will be mighty.

“The challenge is to build the numbers back up again for next year,” said Keepa.

Midway club coach Matt Sutton said their under-14 girls relay team of Jodeisha Kirkpatrick, Sophie Petro, Petiata Bowden and Kaylah Reynolds should perform well.

“We feel they are medal chances in several of the relay events.”

Kirkpatrick, Bowden and Petro also have individual events in which they should perform strongly.

“Kaylah is brand new to the sport but has been progessing well,” said Sutton, whose daughter Ella will also be competing.

The Wainui line-up includes Jack Keepa and Ava Smith — both good medal chances.

The other Wainui athletes are Jack’s sister Charlie and Peyton Allen.

“Charlie medalled last year as an under 11-year-old and comes into the event with a bit more experience,” Keepa said

“For Peyton, it will be her first taste of lifesaving pool competition.”

The Waikanae flag will be flown solo by Edan Wilson.

“Edan should do well in the under-19 events,” said Waikanae club manager Michelle Mitchell.

The championships start tomorrow for the 11-to-14-year-olds.

Senior action starts on Saturday afternoon.

The event is being held at the Sir Owen Glenn National Aquatic Centre in Auckland.

“The championships are an important development event for current and aspiring surf lifeguards as they work on their skills for the season ahead,” said SLSNZ sport development officer Mike Lord.

Nearly 500 athletes from 29 clubs have entered.

“There’s a lot of skill involved in competing in the various races, especially the manikin, tube and obstacle events,” said Lord.

“For some of the athletes, it’s an important chance to show what they’ve got ahead of selection of teams for international competitions in November 2019 and the Life Saving World Championships in Italy next year.”