Winton to host first qualifying swim meet for 10 years

Kavinda Herath/Stuff

Ready for a swimming lesson in the Central Southland Community Pool at Winton, from left, Mackenzie Gentle, Johnston Waters Swim School owner-coach Brittney Johnston, Charlotte Mason, Charlotte Gentle, instructor Omea Hall, and Jack McClean at Central Southland Community Pool in Winton.

Southland swimmers wanting to qualify for national events will go against the clock in Winton on November 1.

Qualifying events at the town’s Central Southland Community Pool don’t happen often, in fact it’s been 10 years since the previous one, Johnston Waters head swimming coach Brittney Johnston said.

The Johnston Waters Swim Club is organising the qualifying day, with support from Swim Southland.

The club’s headquarters are at the community pool but it also uses several other venues in central and western Southland for activities.

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Johnston said the qualifying event was a great opportunity for Southland swimmers.

“I love to see the kids reaching their goals.

“I’m pretty excited, I can’t wait.”

About 100 entries were expected, with ages ranging mostly from 6 to 16. The event will also be a fundraiser for the club.

Johnston formed the 43-member club a year ago but four years earlier set up a swim school at Winton.

She went from working as a shop assistant and part-time swim coach to fulltime in the sport.

Johnston was helping a friend with a swim school until it was sold in 2015.

“I then had about three families ask me if I would do some lessons for them. I started one week with nine kids, the next week I had 56 and it’s just climbed [in numbers] since.”

The school’s 640 members include parents and their babies and 200 people who travel from Invercargill.

Johnston’s two sisters, Mikayla Unahi and Annika Unahi, are also involved in Johnston Waters administration and coaching roles.

Their father Steve Unahi is a prominent competitor and administrator in timber sports.