Ami Matsuo and Cameron Simpson finish on a high at Oceania Championships
Hosts New Zealand claimed the overall honours for number of wins in a tight battle with Australia on the final night of the Mayfair Pools Oceania Championships in Auckland.
Starting the night locked on 16 wins each, the Kiwis won three of the last four events for the 21-19 final scoreline.
Mixed 4x100m freestyle Relay:
If this new innovation needed any further vindication that it should be here to stay it was this race, which went to Australia by 1/100th of a second over New Zealand. The Kiwis started with two men – to grab a lead, pulled back to virtually even by Luke Chalmers on the third leg. Chelsea Gillett (Australia) and Samantha Lucie-Smith (New Zealand) went stroke-for-stroke for the entire 100m but Gillett’s faster turnover gave her the vital touch for the win. New Caledonia was third well clear of the Ryan Pini-led Papua New Guinea.
Women 800m Freestyle:
It was one-way traffic for the open water star from Western Australia, Sacha Downing who romped home in 8:41.17 to go under the Oceania Championship mark of 8:42.22 set by Australian Briony Murphy in 2004. Fiji’s Tiarana Mitchell was second with Mille Knight (Papua New Guinea) third.
Men 200m Individual Medley:
New Zealand teenager Bradlee Ashby upset top qualifier Nicholas Groenewald and in-form Jake Baggaley to win in 2:04.07. Ashby held a narrow lead after the backstroke Groenewald (who clean swept the backstroke individual events). It closed up after the breaststroke but the Kiwi powered away to win from Baggaley (2:05.61) and a tiring Groenewald (2:06.31).
Women 200m Individual Medley:
Commonwealth Games freestyle relay representative Tash Hind produced a dominant performance to claim the win in 2:17.24. She trailled Australia’s Lucy McJannett and fellow Kiwi Helena Gasson after the fly leg, but stormed back on the backstroke, dominated the breaststroke and was untroubled to win from Gasson (2:19.73) and McJannett (2:20.26).
Men 50m Freestyle:
Queensland-based Kiwi Cameron Simpson produced a stunning performance to claim the title in 22.79, which broke the Oceania Championship mark of 22.83 set by Australian Kyle Richardson in 2012. He nailed the start and dominated to win by a healthy 0.6s from teammate Nielsen Varoy (23.39) and Australian Blake Jones (23.41). His winning time was 0.4s off the national record but nearly 0.3s quicker than his winning time at the national championships.
Women 50m Freestyle:
Star of the future, 17 year old Ami Matsuo made it a clean sweep of the freestyle with victory in the 50m to go with wins in the 100m and 200m this week. She came from behind to win in 25.41 to pip teammate Brianna Throssell (25.44) and break the Oceania Championship record of 25.68 that Throssell set in the morning heats. Kiwi 14 year old Gabrielle Fa’amausili was third in 25.86 to break her own New Zealand age group record.
Men 200m Breaststroke:
New Zealand’s Julian Layton went wire-to-wire to win the 200m breaststroke in 2:15.44, just outside the Oceania Championship record. Layton beat out compatriot Alex Peach (2:18.22) and Australia’s Jake Baggaley (2:21.23).
Women 200m Breaststroke:
National champion Abbie Johnston showed her strength in the back half of the race to edge out fellow Kiwi Beckie Dooley, who had won the 50m and 100m breaststroke. Johnston won in 2:38.78 with Dooley 2:38.94 and Hawaii’s Cara Jernigan getting up for third (2:39.63).
Men 4x100m Medley Relay:
It proved another nail-biter between the powerhouses Australia and New Zealand. The hosts led after a superb backstroke led from freestyler Matthew Stanley, but Australia forged back on the butterfly and were just in front after the breaststroke. Steven Kent got to within 3/100ths of a second at the turn for New Zealand but Australia’s Blake Jones held him off to win in 3:43.91 to New Zealand’s 3:44.16. Hawaii impressed to finish third in 3:56.68.
Women 400m Medley Relay:
The New Zealand A team steamed home to claim the final event in 4:09.51, half a second outside the Championship record, to claim their 21st title of the meet, two clear of Australia, with both nations sharing every championship win. New Zealand led from the get-go, with the 50m and 100m breaststroke winner Beckie Dooley doing the most damage as the Kiwis went on to win comfortably from their B team (4:16.19) and Australia (4:17.33).
(Courtesy of Swimming New Zealand)