Sport | Swimming

‘Lost for words’: Taiko Torepe-Ormsby becomes first Kiwi to swim 50m freestyle under 22 seconds

Christchurch’s Taiko Torepe-Ormsby (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Maniapoto) has left spectators in disbelief after witnessing him become the first ever New Zealander to swim the 50 metres freestyle in under 22 seconds at the New Zealand Swimming Championships in Hastings on Saturday.

Torepe-Ormsby, 22, touched the wall in 21.86 seconds during his heat at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Aquatics Centre this morning to set a New Zealand record and hit the Paris Olympic qualification mark.

“I’m lost for words to be honest, I’ve dreamed about this moment for my whole life.

“I’ve been going fast the last couple of days, doing the sets my coach told me and I just can’t believe I got that Olympic time.”

Torepe-Ormsby has been living and studying in the United States for the past three years, swimming for the University of Wisconsin and is fortunate to have his coach with him in Hastings.

He told Whakaata Māori’s Māori Active that his father’s advice has been invaluable.

“It’s been challenging but something my dad always told me was to balance, school, swimming and social life. I feel like this year especially I’ve managed to get a good balance and that’s been seen through my performances throughout the year.”

Watch Taiko Torepe-Ormsby’s fastest-ever NZ 50m freestyle and post-race interview.

The Olympic qualification mark for the 50 metres freestyle has been so quick that it has frequently been regarded as an almost unachievable time for New Zealand swimmers but Torepe-Ormsby made it a reality today.

“It can be seen throughout the last 12 months a New Zealand record being broken three times. It shows how everyone’s getting faster in sprinting in New Zealand which is a little scary for me but good for the rest of the country.”

Torepe-Ormsby has long been touted as a future New Zealand swimming star.