by Te Ahua Maitland
Wintec Journalism student
Nearly everything Gina McCarthy touched turned to gold in the pool as the NZCT AIMS Games swimming titles were decided.
Not only did the Year 8 Southwell School student clean up in the finals, winning six gold medals and a silver in the relay, she also set a handful of new records as well.
The 12-year-old Hamilton swimmer won the 50m, 100m and 200m breastroke, 200m backstroke and the 100m and 200m individual medley. She set new marks in the two longer breaststroke events and both individual medleys.
Like any champion, McCarthy has both long and short-term goals.
“My main goal is the go to the Olympics, but I want to get a New Zealand record,” she said.
“I was a second and a half off the 400m individual medley record at the short-course champs, so I want to beat that.”
Her Olympic inspiration came recently at the national open championships when she met the New Zealand’s best swimmer, Lauren Boyle, and had her photo taken with the double world championship silver medallist.
And like Boyle, she doesn’t see herself as a sprinter.
“I don’t like doing the butterfly – I prefer longer races not the shorter ones,” she said.
Adding the cherry on top of her AIMS Games feats was Southwell School winning the overall points title.
McCarthy said it “felt good” coming away with so many wins, and setting new records – her new marks are 1:16.92 in the 100m breaststroke, 2:41.66 in the 200m breaststroke, 1:07.82 in the 100m medley and 2:25.99. in the 200m medley.
It’s been a busy year already for the young star, who this year alone has competed in the New Zealand juniors, age groups, opens and short course championships.
The determined McCarthy trains two mornings a week, including every day after school with most weekends off – but only if she doesn’t have swimming meets.
McCarthy’s parents, Keiran and Cath said they were both very proud of their daughter’s achievements in the water.
“You can’t push them, you got to let them do what they want to do,” Keiran said.
“So we don’t push her but she pushes herself pretty hard.”
There’s no rest for McCarthy who said it’s back to her training routine straight away to fufill her dreams in competing at the top level.