Swimming New Zealand homepage

The start of something extraordinary

New Zealand Team Produces Encouraging Performances

The five-strong New Zealand team completed an encouraging performance at the fifth FINA World Junior Championships in Singapore.

The team finished with two medals, five finals and seven semifinals collecting a world record, two national open records and seven age group records.

This compares with one medal, one final, five semifinals and three age group records in 2013.

New Zealand finished equal 12th on the medal table from one of the smaller sized teams at the championship where Australia won most gold medals with nine and Russia was the biggest medal winner with 25, one ahead of USA.

Leading the way were the outstanding 15 year old backstrokers Gabrielle Fa’amausili and Bobbi Gichard.

Fa’amausili, from the United club in Auckland, defended her 50m backstroke title, setting a new junior world record and a New Zealand open record in the process.

Gichard, from the Greendale club in Hawkes Bay, won the bronze medal in the 100m backstroke in a new national age group record and only 0.2s off the qualifying time set for the Rio Olympics.

“They are both world class swimmers for their age and tracking well for the future,” said Swimming New Zealand high performance development manager, Donna Bouzaid.

“Both are well coached and Swimming New Zealand will continue to support their development as they push for qualification for the Rio Olympics, but are clearly key targets as part of our Tokyo 2020 vision if they are able to continue their improvement.

“It is an exciting time and the start of something extraordinary moving forward for swimming in New Zealand.”

Eighteen-year old Wilrich Coetzee waited for his final event on the final day to earn a place in the final, finishing eighth in the 200m butterfly.

The North Shore club swimmer went within a whisker of going under the two minute barrier and showed plenty of encouraging signs, making the semi-final in the 100m backstroke and setting personal bests in all four swims at the championship.

Annabelle Paterson (United) and Yeonsu Lee (North Shore) scored personal bests in the 400m freestyle in their first major international event.

“Wilrich is an excellent prospect. He has enormous potential across backstroke, fly and medley and is developing very well under Thomas Ansorg at North Shore,” said Bouzaid.

“Both Annabelle and Yeonsu have gained invaluable international experience and by the end of the meet they understood how to cope with a big international meet and produced their best performances.

“Overall we have a growing depth of talent in our age group ranks and with the work of Gary Hurring in his development coaching role working with the individual coaches, they can see the pathway ahead to become internationally competitive.”

The swimmers move on to their next international competition, backing up with the Youth Commonwealth Games starting in Samoa next Monday.

Coetzee, Fa’amausili, Gichard, Paterson and Lee will head an eight-strong team that also includes Bayley Main (Howick Pakuranga), Eliot Lundon-Moore (Aquabladz, New Plymouth) and Mario Koenigsperger (Howick Pakuranga).

Main, 18, is the younger brother to New Zealand representative Corey Main, and also attends Florida University on scholarship.

Clubmate Koenigsperger, 18, was born in Switzerland before his parents immigrated to New Zealand. The 2m tall breaststroke and freestyle swimmer, coached by Jana Wilkitzki, only began swimming five years ago.

Lundon-Moore, 17, was born in Christchurch but learned to swim in London before developing his skills as part of Taranaki’s Pathway to Podium programme under coach Sue Southgate.