Shirley team aim to bring home national trophy
It has been a big year for the Shirley Boys' High School swimming team, but they would swap it all to dominate at this weekend's national Secondary Schools' Championships in Hamilton.
Shirley won three golds, three silver and three bronze individual medals at the Canterbury championships this year, and 19 individual medals, including 12 golds, at the South Island champs.
They also won every senior freestyle and medley relay at both events, but the title they covet most is the national schools' award for top school.
Shirley have qualified a six-member team led by year 13 pupil Cameron James.
James, the school's 2011 Sportsman of the Year, won three medals at the meet last year including golds in the boys' 50-metre and 100m backstroke.
He grabbed silver in the 200m, narrowly missing his trifecta, but his two gold medal swims were also meet records.
James, who swims for Aquagym, is again one of the swimmers to beat and will compete in seven events.
Phillip Scammell (Aquagym) and Caleb Te Kahu (QEII) - both year 13 and also swimming in seven events this weekend - are going to the meet for the last time and, along with Cameron, they want to go out with a bang.
Their aim for the three-day meet is clear.
“To win overall top school and bring home the trophy,” they said.
From an individual point of view, this isn't the high point of the swimming calendar, but for James, Scammell and Te Kahu, this is big because it is their last chance to represent the school.
Joining them will be two year 12s, Matt Phillips (Wharenui) and Jade Scott (QEII) and year 10 Sean Hartgers (Aquagym).
Like all other Christchurch schools, the Shirley team have had to battle and prepare with limited pool time and no 50m pool.
“It's not ideal,” James said. “Not only are we unable to train long course, but we're unable to run long-course meets which means no long-course race practice.”
Te Kahu was itching for Shirley to stamp its mark on the meet.
“We're really looking forward to giving the North Island schools a nudge, particularly in the senior relays,” he said.
All the Shirley swimmers had goals they wanted to tick off, though. Hartgers' aim was to win a medal in at least one event, Te Kahu's was to win the relays, while Scammell wanted to make sure he enjoyed the meet and helped raise Shirley's profile as a swimming school. Phillips joked that the school had a good chance of picking up the prize for the best chant too.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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