Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weigersma on track for next year

Natalie Wiegersma is on track for her 2010 Commonwealth Games goal after the Southland swimming star returned on Wednesday from a successful trip to the United States.

Wiegersma and fellow Southlanders Lisa Pankhurst and Adam MacDonald had been in the United States competing in two meets.

The Southlanders showed their commitment yesterday by fronting up at Splash Palace in Invercargill just over 24 hours after returning from the US.

The trip was a Swimming Southland initiative set up through their high-performance funding in an attempt to give the promising trio exposure on the international stage.

Swimming Southland officials felt it was needed because New Zealand Swimming did not provide an avenue like this for promising swimmers.

In the final meet during the stay, the TYR Swim Meet of Champions in Mission Veitjo, Wiegersma won the 200m and 400m individual medleys.

She also broke the meet record in the 200m individual medley and recorded a personal best in the 200m freestyle, also breaking the Southland open record.

Wiegersma's coach Jeremy Duncan who also travelled with the swimmers said the international experience in recent weeks was a good gauge.

"This tour has given her a good measure of where she is placed in the world leading into the Commonwealth Games next year and what she must do to bridge the gap between now and then to be competitive."

Duncan said the qualifying times for the Commonwealth Games hadn't yet been released but was confident Wiegersma was going fast enough to line up in New Delhi next year.

Duncan said Pankhurst and MacDonald also benefited from competing in the meets overseas. McDonald stepped up in Mission Veijo, recording personal bests in the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly, while also breaking the Southland records.

The results are a huge boost as the Southland Boys' High School pupil prepares himself to head to Australia on July 4 for a three-meet trans-Tasman series.

Pankhurst was probably the best of the three as far as improvements on personal bests went in the US, the Southland coach said yesterday.

Duncan hoped to carry out a similar tour next year, highlighting the Invercargill Licensing Trust's contribution to the sport as the key reason they had been able to provide their promising young swimmers with the experience.

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