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Results...Mataura’s Marlin Bennett says his hours at swimming practice have paid off after four big wins last weekend.

Like his aquatic namesake, Marlin Bennett is quick in the water.

The Mataura 12-year-old is officially New Zealand’s fastest 50m junior freestyle swimmer after he competed in the Makos junior swimming festival in Dunedin towards the end of last month.

This event determined national and South Island regional placings.

He swam the 50m race in 27.44sec, beating the second-place holder by .07sec.

“I surprised myself,” Marlin said.

“I really wanted it to happen but I didn’t believe it would.”

The best part of the three-day event was “touching the wall and looking up at the time”.

It was the payoff for 10 hours a week spent training at the Gore Aquatic Centre.

He improved his personal best by more than half a second, a big improvement in swimming circles.

Swimming well was a mental challenge as well as a physical one, he said.

“I practise a lot of separate things in training and it’s putting them all together.”

He was worried his starting dive would hold him back and he put a lot of work into this before the competition.

He liked to be competitive, especially against his older brother, he said.

Marlin also won some South Island titles.

He came first in 50m backstroke, first in 100m freestyle, and was a member of the team that placed first in the club relay.

Hokonui Aquatics head coach Mariano Garcia Nani said Marlin was humble and hardworking.

“I knew he had a really good chance .. he worked a lot with his mindset, he set goals,” Mr Garcia Nani said.

“Then he just went and just smashed it.”

It was the first time Hokonui Aquatics had a national champion in the junior age bracket, he said.

“I’m super proud, for sure.”

Six other swimmers from Hokonui Aquatics aged 10-12 also competed in the event.

All had done well and improved their swimming times, he said.

“We had an amazing weekend.”