Event Wrap of the Citi Para Swimming World Series in Singapore
Cameron Leslie (Whangarei) and Gabriella Smith (Vikings) led the pack, both scoring golds at the Citi Para Swimming World Series in Singapore this week. Day two was the day for the Kiwis, with Leslie securing gold in the Men's 50m Backstroke and Smith following suit with first place in the Women’s 400m Freestyle. Both swimmers put in incredible performances to come out on top.
Leslie was pleased with his swim in the 50m Backstroke.
"I'm stoked to get the gold in the 50m back. It's always hard winning medals in multi-classification racing. Awesome for the girls to pick up a medal too."
The team performed strongly across the three days of competition. A highlight of results for each day are below.
The New Zealand team kicked off day one with the Men’s and Women’s 100m Freestyle with Lili-Fox Mason (Wharenui), Tupou Neiufi (Pukekohe), Gaby Smith (Vikings) and Joshua Wilmer (Pukekohe) competing. Lili-Fox Mason managed to secure 9th place overall in a new PB of 1:07.89 with Gaby Smith a little further ahead in 5th, also in a PB of 1:05.32. Cameron Leslie then put in a great stint making it to the finals of the 50m Butterfly and 200m Freestyle, placing 6th (44.82) and 5th (3:02.86) respectively. To round out the day, the Mixed 4 x 100m Medley Relay (34 points) team of Lili-Fox Mason, Gaby Smith, Jesse Reynolds (Hamilton Aquatics) and Cameron Leslie managed to bring home a silver medal, and in doing so making history as the first Para relay team to secure a medal at an international meet.
Day two saw three individual podium results with Cameron Leslie winning gold in the 50m Backstroke in a time of 42.86. Gaby Smith and Lili-Fox Mason were both on the podium in the Women's 400m Freestyle placing first (4:58.16) and third (5:06.51) respectively. In the Men’s 100m Breaststroke, Joshua Willmer finished 6th in the final with a time of 1:14.74, which was just outside of his New Zealand record of 1:14.12. Gaby Smith also put on her second appearance of the day finishing 5th in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke in a time of 1:22.03. The Mixed 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay (34 points) saw Cameron Leslie, Gaby Smith, Tupou Neiufi and Jesse Reynolds secure another silver as the fifth medal of the event for the team.
The final day saw Jesse Reynolds swim in his first individual event, the Men's 100m Backstroke. He placed 8th in the final with a 1:08.03. He was joined in the 100m Backstroke finals by Tupou Neiufi who placed 4th in a time of 1:23.63. Lili-Fox Mason who swam in the B final to 12th place in a time of 1:18.49.
Cameron Leslie and Tupou Neiufi then swam the 50m Freestyle where Cam Leslie collected his 4th medal of the meet when he took home the silver in a time of 37.89. Tupou swam a 36.27 and finished in 8th place.
Gaby Smith then dropped an impressive 0.85 seconds off her personal best in the 200m Individual Medley to swim a 2:40.72, place 6th and break her own 16&U New Zealand record. She had previously broken the record at the 2023 Apollo Projects New Zealand Swimming Championships in April.
The New Zealand team's performance at the 2023 Citi Para Swimming World Series is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the athletes, as well as the support they receive from their coaches and the wider swimming community. It is also a reflection of the strength and depth of Para swimming talent in New Zealand.
One of the highlights of the event was the two medals that the relay teams won. Speaking at the end of the event, Cameron Leslie was excited about the future of the para relay team.
"Our relay team has been tight. Awesome to have that friendship and enjoyment growing for that style of race. I think we have a bright future as a relay team especially when we are full strength."
Overall, we are proud of how the team performed in Singapore. The performances will play a key role as they continue to strive towards the World Para Swimming Championships in Manchester later this year.