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Fa’amausili to defend title in World Junior Swimming Championships

A five-strong New Zealand Swimming team is in action from tomorrow in the fifth FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Singapore.

Returning to the fray is 15 year old Auckland swimmer Gabrielle Fa’amausili who won the world junior title in the 50m backstroke at the last championships in Dubai two years ago.

She is joined by fellow United club swimmer Annabelle Paterson, two swimmers from North Shore club in Wilrich Coetzee and Yeonsu Lee and recent elite world championship representative Bobbi Gichard from the Greendale club in Hawkes Bay.

Fa’amausili is in strong form coming into the championships after winning four titles at the New Zealand Short Course Championships last week including the 50m freestyle, 50m and 100m backstroke and 100m individual medley.

She will contest the 50m and 100m in both freestyle and backstroke and the 50m butterfly in Singapore.

Coetzee also made his mark at the national short course championships with two titles in the 100m individual medley and 200m backstroke as well as two silver medals, as the 18 year old looks forward to his first major international meet.

Gichard, 15, won a bronze medal last year in the Youth Olympics in China and recorded personal bests in her debut at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia last month.

Paterson, part of the burgeoning group of talented swimmers under former Olympic gold medallist Igor Polianski at the United club in Auckland, set herself for these championships when she medalled in the 200m backstroke at the Australian Age Group Championships earlier this year.

Lee, coached by Thomas Ansorg at the North Shore club, will have the busiest programme in her first major international meet. The 16 year old, who won a swag of national schools titles in recent years, is scheduled for six events, including the 200m butterfly where she is the national age group record holder.

The championships begin on Tuesday until Saturday with a full championship programme. Three New Zealanders will be in action on the opening day with Coetzee, Gichard and Fa’amausili in heats of the 100m backstroke.

The Singapore event follows previous championships in Rio de Janeiro (BRA) in 2006, Monterrey (MEX) in 2008, Lima (PER) in 2011 and Dubai (UAE) in 2013.

The New Zealand team is:

Wilrich Coetzee 18 (North Shore) 50m, 100m, 200m butterfly, 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley.

Gabrielle Fa’amausili 15 (United, Auckland) 50m, 100m freestyle, 50m, 100m backstroke and 50m butterfly.

Bobbi Gichard 15 (Greendale, Hawkes Bay) 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke.

Yeonsu Lee 16 (North Shore) 100m, 200m butterfly, 50m, 200m, 400m freestyle, 200m individual medley.

Annabelle Paterson 17 (United) 200m, 400m freestyle, 200m backstroke

CAPTION: Gabrielle Fa’amausili in action during last week’s New Zealand Short Course Swimming Championships. The image is free for editorial use only. Credit: BW Media.