May 2023, Articles

Outlook for Para swimming bright

A haul of six medals from New Zealand’s six strong team in Singapore recently, including the first ever relay medals, is evidence the legacy of successful Para swimmers of past years will continue with the next generation.

Amanda White, High Performance Manager of Swimming New Zealand, was the team’s manager at the all-important classification meet and says the results in the pool were excellent.

“Classification in Para swimming is a complicated but critical part of our sport.  All Para swimmers need to be classified at an international level as well as by Paralympics NZ.  We achieved our goal in Singapore and we can now focus on our build up to Paris knowing all our swimmers are classified,” says Amanda.

The team’s medal haul, led by legendary Para swimmer Cameron Leslie with gold and silver, included silvers in each of the two relay events – 4 x 100 medley and 4 x 100 freestyle – and individual gold to Gabby Smith and bronze to Lily-Fox Mason.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Josh Willmer, while not getting onto the podium, achieved the most personal bests among the team.

Now classification is completed, the team will turn its attention to the World Championships in Manchester in July.

“The Manchester meet will be the first opportunity for our swimmers to achieve qualifying standards for Paris 2024,” says Amanda.  “It will also be the first pinnacle event for our relay teams and a chance to fully focus on qualifying them for Paris as well.”

Amanda says New Zealand Para swimming has such a long and proud history of outstanding athletes and points to the successes of Cameron Leslie and Dame Sophie Pascoe over many years at pinnacle events.

“We have a strong development pipeline in place, largely thanks to the work Cameron does as our Para swimming Community Manager identifying talent, and to the wonderful contribution he and Sophie make coaching our younger athletes.

“On behalf of Swimming New Zealand I would also like to congratulate Cameron on being a finalist in the Sportsperson with a Disability category at the recent prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards.  It is a fantastic honour for Cameron and recognises his outstanding career in both Para swimming and as a Wheelblack over many years,” says Amanda.

Para swimming NZ team to Singapore:

  • Cameron Leslie (individual gold and silver, 2 x relay silvers)
  • Jesse Reynolds (2 x relay silvers)
  • Gabby Smith (individual gold, 2 x relay silvers)
  • Lily-Fox Mason (individual bronze, 1 x relay silver)
  • Josh Willmer
  • Tupou Neiuifi (1 x relay silver)
New Zealand's first ever Para Swimming relay medal. From left: Cameron Leslie, Lily-Fox Mason, Gabby Smith, Jesse Reynolds
New Zealand’s first ever Para Swimming relay medal. From left: Cameron Leslie, Lily-Fox Mason, Gabby Smith, Jesse Reynolds