Chch swimmer breaks NZ freestyle record

Taiko Torepe-Ormsby. Photo: Swimming New Zealand / 2024 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships
Taiko Torepe-Ormsby. Photo: Swimming New Zealand / 2024 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships
Christchurch swimmer Taiko Torepe-Ormsby has become the first New Zealander to swim the 50m freestyle in under 22 seconds.

Torepe-Ormsby set a New Zealand record and hit the Paris Olympic qualification mark at the New Zealand Swimming Championships in Hastings on Saturday.

The final day of the 2024 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships delivered some memorable moments, with the history books being re-written again.

The Men's 50m Freestyle had been highlighted on the event schedule as one not to be missed, with joint NZ Record holders Torepe-Ormsby (Wharenui Sports Centre & University of Wisconsin) and Michael Pickett (Club 37) having not raced one another over the past couple of years.

Torepe-Ormsby returned from his studies at the University of Wisconsin for the championships in fine form, and had kept his powder dry all week as he only competed in the Men's 50m Freestyle.

He didn't disappoint as he took to the heat, where he was a cut above and had the crowd roaring as he produced the fastest 50m Freestyle swim ever by a New Zealander and achieved the qualifying standard for Paris, touching the wall in 21.86.

It was the first time a Kiwi had swum under 22 seconds and Torepe-Ormsby erupted with joy.

"I’m lost for words to be honest, I’ve dreamed about this moment for my whole life," he told Swimming New Zealand.

"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."

After Pickett also produced a rapid heat swim (22.19), the much anticipated showdown arrived in the final.

The pair went stroke for stroke the length of the pool, with Torepe-Ormsby (22.08) emerging the victor with a narrow margin over Pickett (22.17) and Cameron Gray (Coast - 22.55) coming in third.

“Definitely can’t complain about (Saturday), pretty happy overall,” said Torepe-Ormsby.

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