NZ Swimming Championships: Taiko Torepe-Ormsby Blasts 50 Free Record for Paris Ticket

Taiko Torepe-Ormsby (100m back) in action during the Swimming New Zealand Short Course Championships,Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre, Auckland, New Zealand, Wednesday 4 October 2017. Photo: Simon Watts/
Photo Courtesy: Simon Watts/BW Media

NZ Swimming Championships: Taiko Torepe-Ormsby Blasts 50 Free Record for Paris Ticket

Taiko Torepe-Ormsby served notice of his increasing seed in a tremendous season with the University of Wisconsin. He’s brought that speed into international meets in a way that is fodder for collegians’ Olympic dreams.

Torepe-Ormsby blasted time of 21.86 seconds in prelims of the men’s 50 freestyle at the NZ Swimming Championships Saturday, not just an Olympic A cut but the national record in the event by a clean quarter second.

The 20-year-old from Wharenui Swim Club jolted prelims by cleaving .25 off his best time, which was also the national mark. He was under the A cut of 21.96. Torepe-Ormsby backed it by going 22.08 in finals to win, just .09 up on Michael Pickett, with whom he had shared the national mark.

“I’m lost for words to be honest,” this year’s Big Ten champion in the 50 told Swimming NZ. “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.”

His morning swim set the stage for a thrilling final day at Hawke’s Bay Regional Aquatic Centre that included two national records, an Olympic A cut and solid performances from two qualified Olympians.

The other record came from Monique Wieruszowski. The 16-year-old axed another .29 seconds off her national mark in the women’s 50 breaststroke, winning in 30.38.

Lewis Clareburt secured another Olympic A cut by going 1:57.36 to win the men’s 200 individual medley. That’s within .09 seconds of his national record from 2021, and it’s well under the A standard of 1:57.93. He was 6.5 seconds clear of runner-up Sam Brown.

“That was a good swim for me,” Clareburt said. “I haven’t come anywhere near that record in three years so I’m definitely heading in the right direction. This has been a great week. We’ve had so many athletes make the Olympic qualification time which has been amazing.”

The women’s 800 free featured solid performances from Erika Fairweather and Eve Thomas, both of whom have already qualified for the Paris Games. Fairweather won in 8:21.67, quicker than the 8:22.26 that won her bronze at the 2024 World Championships. Thomas, fourth in that race, clubbed 2.5 seconds off the best time she set then to earn silver in 8:22.27.

Fairweather claimed the Harold Pettit Trophy at meet’s end for the swim of the meet, her performance in the 200 free.

Josh Gilbert completed the breaststroke trifecta by winning the men’s 50 in 28.22, a tenth up on Josh Pickett.

Gina McCarthy went 2:16.58 to win the women’s 200 IM. Helena Gasson was third in that event and second to Wieruszowski in the 50 breast. Larn Hamblyn-Ough won the men’s 1,500 free in 16:12.79. Gabi Fa’amausili picked up a second win of the week in the women’s 50 free, going 25.13 to edge Chelsey Edwards. Fa’amausili was .05 quicker in prelims.

Cameron Leslie added another Paris cut in the S4 men’s 50 free, winning the multi-class race in 38.14. Finn Russ claimed the S19 national record in the 50 free (26.73). Chloe Godwin set an S19 mark in the women’s 200 IM, as did Ian Chen in the men’s race.

For the five-day meet, New Zealand had seven athletes hit qualification times for the Paris Olympics and six for the Paralympics.

  • Olympics: Lewis Clareburt (Club 37), Erika Fairweather (Neptune & Swim Dunedin), Eve Thomas (Coast), Hazel Ouwehand (Phoenix Aquatics), Cameron Gray (Coast), Taiko Torepe-Ormsby (Wharenui), Kane Follows (Neptune & Swim Dunedin)
  • Paralympics: Cameron Leslie (Whangarei), Lili-Fox Mason (Wharenui), Joshua Willmer (Pukekohe), Jesse Reynolds (Hamilton Aquatics & Waikato RPC)
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