Ava Wilson won six medals including three golds at the national secondary schools’ championships. PHOTO/FILE
Veteran swimming coach Russell Geange rates newly crowned three-time national champion Ava Wilson right up there with the best who he has coached.
The Solway College student returned with an impressive haul of three gold medals, two silver, and one bronze from the national secondary schools’ championships held in Hamilton last weekend.
“I compare swimmers with swimmers and those I’ve had,” Geange said.
“She’s only 13, she’ll be 14 this month I think, I rate her up there with the likes of Jodie Workman and Katrina Simmonds, and I rate her with the top girls that I’ve coached.”
Wilson won gold medals in the 400m freestyle, the 100m and 200m breaststroke, silver in the 100m and 200m freestyle, and bronze in the 100m individual medley.
Her winning time of four minutes and 29.65 seconds in the 400m freestyle, 8.3 seconds ahead of the runner-up, particularly impressed Geange.
“The time was also what I was looking for. I didn’t expect her to do that time, but she did, and it was quite pleasing,” he said.
“She did 59s [59.82s] for the 100m freestyle, and we don’t get many girls go under one minute in Wairarapa, so she’s heading in the right direction.
Geange was also thrilled with Wilson’s efforts in winning her two breaststroke finals – the 200m in 2.52.86, and the 100m in 1.21.46 – in what he said is not her strongest discipline.
“I wasn’t quite sure how those were going to work out. I watched the races here at home, and they looked so good.
“Her technique was pretty much spot on, and we’ve got work to do still as you do, but those two breaststroke races, the 200 and 100, were very good, and it’s becoming one of her better strokes.”
Another of Geange’s charges, Rathkeale student James Church also had an impressive meet, swimming into a bronze medal and making nine finals in the boys’ 15 years age group.
Church’s bronze came in the 100m freestyle, finishing in 53.48sec, just 0.23sec off second place. He was pipped for third in the 200m freestyle and finished a strong fifth in the 100m butterfly.
‘He set four or five personal bests after performing well at Wellington short course championships, so it was a good effort,” Geange said.
Wilson and Church will compete in the national short course championships in North Shore, Auckland later this month.