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The start of something extraordinary

Fa’amausili, Gichard both qualify for backstroke final

Fifteen-year-old stars of the future, Gabrielle Fa’amausili and Bobbi Gichard will vie for medals in the final of the 50m backstroke in the fourth day of the FINA World Junior Championships in Singapore.

Fa’amausili, from Auckland’s United club, produced another outstanding swim to be second fastest in the semifinal after her world record effort in the morning heats.

She clocked 28.14 in the semifinal, equal to the time that she won the world junior title two years ago. It was only 3/100th of a second outside the brilliant performance in the morning, which broke the previous world junior record as well as lowering her own New Zealand Open mark.

The world record lasted just one minute until Australian Minna Atherton went 28.00s to lower the mark again in the final heat. She then dipped under the 28 second mark to top the times in the semifinal, with her 27.92 among the top 10 overall times in the world this year.

Gichard was not left out of this battle. The Greendale club swimmer from Hawkes Bay was fourth fastest in the semifinal in 28.57, to clip nearly half a second off her previous best  effort.

Fa’amausili went through as the second fastest to tonight’s semifinals along with teammate Bobbi Gichard who clocked a healthy 29.12s to be seventh fastest.

The backstroke stars were the only New Zealanders to qualify today.

In other Kiwi swims, North Shore’s Wilrich Coetzee recorded a personal best 25.30 to be 30th fastest in heats of the 50m butterfly.

His fellow North Shore teammate Yeonsu Lee had a demanding schedule. The 16 year old set a four second personal best of 4:21.76 to be 24th fastest in the 400m freestyle, and returned in the next women’s race to clock 2:21.24 for 26th fastest in the 200m individual medley.

Auckland’s Annabelle Paterson clocked a personal best 4:22.54 to be 28th fastest in the 400m freestyle.

The fifth World Junior Swimming Championships, staged at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, runs until Sunday.

CAPTION: Gabrielle Fa’amausili in action. (The image is free for editorial use only. Credit: BW Media).