Weir named in squad for Australian festival

Stratford AquaBladz swimmer Julian Weir has been included in a 17-strong New Zealand squad to compete in the sixth Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney next month.

The swimmers will form part of the overall team under the New Zealand Olympic Committee for the January 17-20 festival, which is expected to attract 1700 athletes under 18 years from 30 nations competing in 17 sports.

The team is headed by national age-group recordholders Abbie Johnston (AquaGym, Christchurch), Max Polianski (United, Auckland), Weir, Ben Walsh (Porirua Aquatics) and Hokitika's George Schroder (AquaGym).

The group includes 10 swimmers who represented New Zealand earlier this year in the Trans Tasman tri-series against Australia.

Swimming New Zealand acting chief executive Mark O'Connor said the festival played a valuable role in development.

"Swimming New Zealand has been part of the previous five editions of the Australian Youth Festival," Mr O'Connor said. "It offers us the chance of strong international competition among our promising under-18 swimmers as they look to bridge up to elite level.

"This gives them a taste of the level of competition required, the atmosphere of a major meet and the benefit of competing in an outstanding facility at Sydney Aquatic Centre.

"Additionally, it allows the swimmers to be part of a bigger New Zealand sporting team and to experience that environment which is something they need to understand if they are to succeed at the Commonwealth Games or Olympic Games in the future."

The team is: Bradlee Ashby (Fairfield, Hamilton), Caroline Baddock (Laser Mt Eden, Auckland), Cameron Blair (KiwiWest, Palmerston North), Carter Edgecombe (Fairfield), Abbie Johnston (AquaGym, Christchurch), Monique King (North Shore), Georgia Marris (United, Auckland), Aimee Moss (Howick Pakuranga, Auckland), Samuel Perry (St Peters, Cambridge), Max Polianski (United), Melita Raravula (Northwave, Whangarei), Kelly Scammell (AquaGym), George Schroder (AquaGym), Grace Sommerville (Ashburton), Edward Taylor (Karori, Wellington), Ben Walsh (Porirua Aquatics, Wellington), Julian Weir (AquaBladz, Stratford).