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2019 New Zealand Div II Champs

Sixteen Northland swimmers headed south to Dunedin last week for the 2019 New Zealand Division II Age Group Championships. The second-tier national short-course (25m) meet is aimed at younger and up-and-coming swimmers. Northland’s star swimmer of the competition was Bream Bay’s Luca Matenga (15), who returns home with an impressive collection of medals and a couple of national age groups qualifying times. Matenga began the competition in style, winning gold in his first event, 100m breaststroke, in which he also slashed a minute off his time to qualify for the top tier National Age Group Championships (NAGS) in Wellington next month. Luca also won silver in 100m backstroke, 50m breaststroke, 50m backstroke and 100m butterfly - in which he also qualified for NAGS.

Another outstanding Northland performer was Samantha Dutton (15), also from Bream Bay. Dutton won gold in 100m breaststroke, dropping an incredible 6.52 seconds from her entry time and qualifying for NAGS. She followed up with silver in 200m breast and bronze in both 50m breast and 50m backstroke.

Whangarei Swimming Club’s Courtney Stoddart (17) also flew the Northland flag proudly, winning silver in 400m individual medley and bronze in both 100m and 50m breaststroke. She just missed on medals in another few events, placing 4th in 200m IM and 5th in 200m back.

Other Northlanders who faced down tough competition to make finals were: Amy Swanson (14, Bream Bay) 5th in 50m free, 6th in 50m back and 8th in 100m free; Nina Matenga (17, Bream Bay) 5th in 50m back and 7th in 100m back; Blake Dempster (15, Whangarei) 4th 50m free, 6th 50m back, 7th 100m free, 7th 100m back.

For several of the swimmers, this was their first taste of a national competition and they rose to the challenge, with each one improving their time in at least one event. Biggest improvers were Bay of Islands’ Marvin Beckmann (15), taking 8.27 seconds off his 400m IM time; Fidel Poulson (13, Bream Bay) 7.67seconds off 200m IM and made a NAGS time in 100m backstroke; Florence Venner (12, Bay of Islands) 7.46 seconds off her 200m IM time, and Lily Matenga (13, Bream Bay) who took 7.42 seconds off her 200m IM time.