Ryan Marsh picked up a silver and a bronze medal in Auckland. Photo: Supplied.

Swim club quartet excel at short course national champs

Four Marlborough swimmers made the most of their trip to the 2019 Swimming NZ short course age and open championships which finished on Saturday in Auckland.

Six Blenheim Swim Club swimmers qualified for the event, staged at the National Aquatic Centre. They were Luci Maara, Jack Bugler, Ollie Mandeno, George Glover, Minnette Richards and Ryan Marsh but only Glover, Marsh, Richards and Mandeno made the journey north.

It was well worth it though, with the BSC quartet excelling across a variety of strokes and races.

Marsh, who swam the 50 and 100m backstroke, 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m butterfly plus the 100m IM, picked up two medals – a silver medal in the 13 years 200 and a bronze in the 13 years 100m fly. Along the way he set three unofficial Swimming Nelson Marlborough records as well as registering three top 10 finishes in the 13-year division. He set personal bests in the 100 back, 200 free, 100 IM, 100 and 200m butterfly.

Glover also had a tough schedule, swimming 100 and 200 IM, 200 free, 1500 free, 50 back plus 50, 100 and 200m breaststroke. He also medalled, winning silver in the 16 years 1500m freestyle. He also claimed five top 10 finishes in the 16-year-old division and set unofficial Swimming Nelson Marlborough records for 16 years in the 100 IM and 200 breaststroke events. Glover recorded PBs in his 100 and 200 IM, plus 50 and 200 breaststroke races.

Richards competed in breaststroke, swimming 50, 100 and 200m races. She set as PB in the 100m and matched her best over 50 and 200m.

Mandeno competed in the 400 IM and 200 butterfly, setting a new PB in the 200 fly.

Jack Bugler and Liz Peipi are reunited for a trip to the INAS Global Games. Photo: Peter Jones.

Marlborough duo bound for Brisbane

Marlborough swimmer Jack Bugler will have a familiar voice urging him on from poolside when he competes in Brisbane later this month.

Liz Peipi, a long-standing swim coach who helped Jack in his formative years, has offered to help the 17-year-old during his bid for success at the INAS (International Federation for Athletes with Intellectual Impairment) Global Games.

Liz and Jack will travel to Australia next week for the rapidly-growing event which runs from October 13-19, plus the three days of international classification which precede the Games.

The Games, which began in 1986 with 14 nations in attendance, now involve around 80 nations, making it the world’s biggest event for athletes with an intellectual impairment. It caters for over 1000 athletes across 10 sports, including 250 swimmers. This is the first time New Zealand has sent a swim team to the Games.

Like the Commonwealth Games, all the athletes, coaches and managers will share dining and accommodation facilities, making for a community atmosphere.

Liz will two other swimmers under her wing in Brisbane, Jane Fox (18) from the Orca Swim Club in Invercargill and 15-year-old Cuda Tawhai from the Taupo Swim Club, who along with Jack qualified for the Games at the recent national champs in Auckland.

Jack, who continually bettered his personal best times at the nationals, has a tough class S14 programme in Australia, contesting nine events across the full range of strokes. On some days he may have three races in the morning and three in the afternoon, if he reaches the finals.

Consequently, he is training hard to lift his fitness levels and working hard on technique with his regular Blenheim swim coach Jenni Gane, who was unable to travel to Brisbane.

However, Jack is well accustomed to Liz’s input. She originally worked with him as a six-year-old learning to swim, then reconnected at swim school aged 14.

Liz finished her lengthy stint as club coach in October 2018 but considers it an honour to be asked to help Jack, and the other youngsters, especially given she was associated with the formation of para-swimming when living and coaching in Greymouth and Westport. One of her favourite sporting quotes is, “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better,” a mantra that fits Jack’s work ethic perfectly.

The INAS organisation is a full member of the International Paralympic Committee, with the Games offering a possible stepping stone to future Paralympic participation.

Jack Bugler trains in the Blenheim pool. Photo: Peter Jones.

Jack brings home two bronze

Marlborough swimmer Jack Bugler single-handedly ensured the Blenheim Swim Club had a strong presence at the New Zealand Open championships in Auckland last week.

Thanks to Jack’s results the Blenheim-based club placed 16th overall on points among the 70 clubs represented, “a huge effort from a single swimmer”, said club coach Jenni Gane.

“Jack had a wonderful week at the pool”, she added.

He brought home two bronze medals, placing third in both the 100m breaststroke and 200m freestyle finals.

Overall, Jack took off a staggering 49.67 seconds off his previous personal bests across 10 events.

Other placing included a fourth, four fifths and two sixths, with one event not counting as a para event.

Para swimmers in all classes compete together in the final and are scored against the world record in their classification.

The 16-year-old Marlborough Boys’ College year 12 student swims in the S14 category and has his sights set on representing his country at the Tokyo Olympic Para Games.

Racing in Auckland, the biggest meet of his career so far, Jack showed he can perform on the national stage despite being up against some exceptional swimmers, including a national S14 record holder, world para qualifiers and NZ para representatives.

Jack Bugler takes a break from training at the Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 pool. Photo: Peter Jones.

Jack hits the road to NZ swim champs

Blenheim swimmer Jack Bugler headed to this week’s NZ Open Swimming Championships with big expectations – and an even bigger schedule.

The 16-year-old year 12 student at Marlborough Boys’ College faces a daunting 10 events over five days, across a variety of strokes.

Jack has swum for fun most of his life, but began competitive swimming only 12 months ago, initially under the coaching of Marion Moore and Liz Peipi, but now under the watch of Blenheim Swim Club head coach Jenni Gane.

Jack has competed at local events and the Tasman champs last year, as well as the Special Olympics National Summer Games, but the full nationals will be far and away the biggest event he has attended.

He has been training seven times each week for the past few months, keen to pick up a medal or two in Auckland and qualify for the S14 category events at the Tokyo Olympic Para Games. His performances in the 200m freestyle, the 100m backstroke, the 100m breaststroke, the 100m butterfly and the 200m individual medley will be monitored to see if he makes the grade.

Para swimming at Olympic level is divided into a series of classes, for swimmers with physical disabilities and visual impairments, plus those, such as Jack, with intellectual disabilities.

Jack is also keen to show his skills at the INAS Global Games, the world’s largest sporting event for elite athletes with intellectual impairment. It will be held in Brisbane during October, where he will be going for international qualification as a member of the NZ team.

Jenni, who has been working with Jack since October last year, has noticed a huge improvement in his pool performances.

“Jack has stepped up from swimming four sessions a week to doing seven … his times have really improved, doing PBs pretty much every time he hits the water, so going to the Opens will really set up where he is ranked and where he is sitting on the New Zealand scale.

“There are also medal opportunities [at the NZ champs] so I hope we bring back a bit of bling, which Jack is quite capable of, and I’m sure there will be a big smile on his face.”

Jack prefers the backstroke and breaststroke disciplines, adding that he also thrives on swimming medley events, underlining his growing prowess across all four strokes. “He does a pretty quick 100 free,” adds Jenni, “his confidence is growing”.

Jack says he enjoys both training and racing, plus the camaraderie of his fellow swimmers. He also relishes the feeling of going quickly through the water and has his eyes firmly set on picking up a medal, or two, in Auckland.

Given his current rate of progress he is unlikely to come home empty-handed.