Commonwealth Games medallist Penny Marshall will make a special homecoming when she returns to Tauranga for the New Zealand short course swimming championships starting on Friday.
Marshall left Tauranga four years ago to further her swimming career. Last year that dream was shattered when she needed life-threatening brain surgery after she was hit by a motor vehicle.
But 18 months later the 21-year-old returns after not only making a remarkable recovery but with two medals around her neck from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Marshall was part of the New Zealand team who earned a silver medal in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay and a bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
It will be the first time she has competed back in Tauranga in a serious swim meet.
"I am pretty excited to be back in Tauranga competing. Even though it is an off-meet for me, it will still be pretty cool," Marshall said.
All eight New Zealand medallists from the Games will be competing in the three-day championships at the Baywave Aquatic Centre in Mount Maunganui.
Gareth Kean, Glenn Snyders, Daniel Bell, Hayley Palmer, Lauren Boyle, Amaka Gessler, Penny Marshall and Tash Hind, will all be unrested after only returning to training in the past week or two.
Marshall said the short-course competition will allow her to concentrate on the key skills of starts and turns.
"It will be cool to be back out and racing again, and especially in Tauranga and hopefully in front of family and friends."
Marshall grew up in Matamata before moving to Tauranga when she was 12. She moved to North Shore in 2007 to take her swimming further, now in the Swimming New Zealand high performance centre and coached by former Olympian Scott Talbot.
There is also interest in the return of Beijing Olympian Corney Swanepoel, last year's world championship teammates Kurt Bassett and Michael Jack, Youth Olympic swimmers Matt Stanley and Chloe Francis, and rising 15-year-old star Sophia Batchelor.