Savanna Bourke has made her breakthrough onto the national podium at the New Zealand Age Group Swimming Championships.
The 13-year-old swimmer capped off the meet in Wellington last month with a bronze medal in the 400m individual medley and earning gold with the junior girl’s relay team.
“I was really happy, I only thought I was going to like make the top five!” said Savanna, who tested her luck at the competition last year racing in the 13-year-old age group as a 12-year-old. “I didn’t even make the finals last year.”
Her club, the St Peter’s Swimming Club, finished up 7th overall in the competition with a total of 18 medals earned by the 22-person team. This included two gold medals in the junior girls’ relay finals – the 4×100 medley relay and the 4×100 freestyle relay – the latter of which was earned by Savanna along with club mates Minnie Glover, Sarah Wilson and Danielle Joblin. That same team, but with Rylee Britton instead of Savanna, won the 4×100 medley relay.
The national competition covers 13 to 18 year old age group swimming and is usually held in Auckland each year. But this year it moved to Wellington, providing the girls with what felt like a fresh start.
“It was a way better environment this year,” said Riley. “We felt more as a team.
“It kind of felt like a totally different meet.”
Riley picked up two silvers in her 15-year-old girls age group races, as well as places in several race finals.
Her fellow relay team swimmer Minnie Glover managed to get the most medals of all the St Peter’s swimmers, picking up two gold relay medals and four individual medals in the 14-year-old age group.
“I was really happy I managed to get much more than last time, last year I only got one medal, but that was a gold medal. I didn’t get any individual gold medals this year but I’m still really happy with my results and getting some new personal-best (PB) times,” she said.
“I think the relay team did so well because we had already done some good swim times earlier in the meet so we all felt quite confident going in.”
Most members of the swim team earned PBs during the meet.
Katelyn Flynn carried her ‘Personal Best’ form across all her events in what was her first national age group meet, finishing up with a silver medal in the 50m butterfly.
Danielle Joblin made the finals for all her events, with plenty of PBs too. “She absolutely gave it all in the relays to get us over the line in gold medal position,” said the team coach Aly Fitch, who was “extremely proud” of all the swimmers. “It was a great week of racing,” she said.
Sarah Wilson played a key role in the relay finals, earned a raft of PBs and made a number of finals.
Holly Isaac earned bronze in the 100m backstroke and silver in the 50m backstroke.
Ashleigh Allred, a successful open-water swimmer, brought her skills into the pool for this meet and picked up gold in the 16-year-old girls 1500m freestyle final and two silvers in the 400m and 800m freestyle finals.
Not to be outdone, Tyler Tapper capped of a successful national season with three bronze medals in the 1500m freestyle final, the 200m individual medley and in the 50m backstroke final.
“He continued his strong development across all of his disciplines to step up hugely with his swims,” said Fitch, who commended all of the swimmers for an excellent effort.
Minnie Glover added, “Thank you to the coaches for training us so hard and persevering with us.”
Next on the swimming calendar for the Cambridge swim team is the New Zealand Open Champs, the most prestigious of New Zealand’s national meets comprised of elite and open swimmers with all age groups competing together. The meet takes place June 17 – 21 at the Owen Glenn National Aquatic Centre in Auckland.