Sport | Olympics

Ngāi Tahu swimmer heading to Paris after breaking Aotearoa records

Taiko Torepe-Ormsby (Ngāi Tahu, Arowhenua Marae) has been picked to represent Aotearoa in the upcoming Paris Olympics competing in the Men’s 50m Freestyle.

While competing to get the coveted position in the Olympic team, he produced the fastest 50m Freestyle swim ever made by a Kiwi at 21.86 seconds, making him an obvious pick for the squad.

Talking to Te Ao Māori News, Torepe-Ormsby said the news hadn’t sunk in yet.

“Ever since I was young, I had been dreaming about this moment my whole life and now that it’s actually happening, I don’t think my mind and my body has comprehended that.

“It’s something truly special.”

Taiko Torepe-Ormsby (supplied)

He has been swimming competitively since he was seven years old, taking after his older sisters who are also swimmers.

Originally a Christchurch boy, he finished high school in 2021 and in the following year made his way to the US to pursue his swimming career. He is now studying as a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He wanted to thank his parents and wider whānau and friends for getting him this far along in his career.

“Swimming is an individual sport. My name will be in the record books but I couldn’t do it alone. Everybody around that has supported me should also be up there, with their names on the board.

“All the early mornings that Mum and Dad had to wake up to get me to practice, all the support whānau have given me, whether that’s texting me, messaging me or coming to see me when I’m back in New Zealand, I’m just extremely thankful for all of that,” he said emotionally.

It is a lot of first times for him as not only will it be his first Olympic Games, but also his first time being part of a New Zealand team.

He is one of four Māori in his swim team heading to the games, with Lewis Clareburt (Waikato-Tainui), Erika Fairweather (Ngāi Tahu), and Laticia Leigh Transom (Ngati Kahungunu, Ngai Te Rangi, Te Ati Haunui a Paparangi) being the other three.

Clareburt and Fairweather will also be leading the team to a victory.

Taiko Torepe-Ormsby getting a gold medal at a competition (Supplied)

Torepe-Ormsby wants to inspire young Māori rangatahi to become their best selves.

“Swimming is not really a sport that Māori people in New Zealand take part in.

“I feel like me making it this far being the faster swimmer in New Zealand and making it to the Olympics hopefully stands out for all the Māori youth around New Zealand.

“If I can do it, they can do it. There is nothing stopping them because nothing stopped me from getting to this point in my life and I would encourage anybody, any Māori, to get in the pool.

“Not only in swimming but taking all the opportunities they have to potentially move to the United States for sport and school,” he said.

The Paris 2024 swimming competition will be contested from July 27 to August 4 at the Paris La Defense Arena.