Sport | Swimming

‘A great week’: Māori swimmers make Paris 2024 qualifying times

Four Māori swimmers have gone under the qualifying times for Paris 2024 at the New Zealand Swimming Championships in Hastings this week, with three bettering the Olympic standard and one the Paralympic mark.

Hot off the back of Taiko Torepe-Ormsby’s (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Maniapoto) stunning fastest-ever New Zealand 50 metres freestyle and Olympic qualification on Saturday, Lewis Clareburt (Waikato-Tainui) in the men’s 200m individual medley and Erika Fairweather (Ngāi Tahu) in the women’s 800m freestyle have both swum under their Olympic benchmarks.

As well, three-time Paralympian Cameron Leslie (Ngāpuhi) swam the Paralympic qualification time in the S4 50 metres freestyle.

“Definitely can’t complain about today, pretty happy overall,” Torepe-Ormsby said Saturday evening after claiming the national title in the 50 metres freestyle final, finishing in 22.08s following his record-breaking sub-22 second 21.86 earlier in the day.

“Coming into tonight there was a lot less pressure after making that time this morning and I’m really pleased to get that title.”

Watch Taiko Torepe-Ormsby in action in the 50 metres freestyle final.

In the final session of racing at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Aquatics Centre on Saturday evening, Tokyo Olympian Clareburt powered ahead of the field and showed his class to finish in 1:57.36 seconds in the men’s 200m individual medley and better the Olympic mark, just .1 of a second outside the New Zealand record.

“That was a good swim for me, I haven’t come anywhere near that record in three years so I’m definitely heading in the right direction,” said Clareburt.

“This has been a great week. We’ve had so many athletes make the Olympic qualification time which has been amazing.”

Clareburt’s swim followed a huge battle between Fairweather and Eve Thomas in the women’s 800m freestyle final.

The pair went stroke for stroke for almost the whole race, with Thomas slightly ahead into the last 50 metres. The crowd were on their feet as it came down to a sprint finish, with Fairweather pulling ahead to win in 8:21.67 seconds and go under the Olympic qualifying standard, just ahead of Thomas in 8:22.27 seconds.

“I’m a bit tired now, the 800 definitely takes it out of you but I’m happy with that result,” said Fairweather.

“It’s been a great week and I’ve loved the whole experience here.”