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Smith & Smith-Franklin Leading The Way in Melbourne

Event wrap from the 2023 Para Swimming World Series in Melbourne (17 - 19 February)

The Swimming New Zealand Para Swimming team kicked off their year in strong fashion over the weekend in Melbourne at the 2023 Para Swimming World Series. Held in conjunction with the Victorian Open Championships at Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre, our team shown brightly across the three day competition as they prepare for the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships in early April.

Gaby Smith (Vikings) had some extra weight in her suitcase coming home, after winning the gold medal in the S10 400m Freestyle in a 16 & under years NZ Age Group Record (4:56.54). Lili-Fox Mason (Wharenui) was close behind to continue on her strong breakout year internationally in 2022 to claim the silver medal in the same race (4:59.48). This was the first time that both Gaby and Lili-Fox had broken the 5-minute mark in the 400m Freestyle and Lili-Fox's first international medal.

Asher Smith-Franklin (North Shore) had an outstanding weekend of racing, where he not only set personal bests at least once in every event but also broke the NZ Record (both Open and 16 & under years) along the way in each event respectively. Asher kick started his weekend in the S14 100m Butterfly (1:02.62), by dropping 1.3 seconds under his previous record. A strong swim in the heats in the SB14 100m Breaststroke (1:14.85) resulted in 0.6 second improvement on his previous record. A super heats swim saw a 2 seconds improvement in the SM14 200m Individual Medley, before breaking the NZ Record again in the final (2:23.04) for another 2 second improvement. Asher rounded out a great week with a 2 seconds improvement on his S14 200m Freestyle (2:10.16) to leave Melbourne with a handful of NZ Records (both Open and Age).

Erin Knox (SwimZone Racing) made a splash in her first international racing experience by winning a bronze medal in the female 50m Backstroke (36.58). Erin also broke her personal best twice in the S10 50m Freestyle (31.80) and S10 100m Backstroke (1:16.58), as well as once in the S10 100m Freestyle (1:10.64) and S10 50m Butterfly (34.65). Congratulations Erin

Overall, the team achieved a huge 73% personal best rate across the heats and 57% personal bests in the finals.

The next major event on the calendar for these swimmers is the 2023 Apollo Projects NZ Swimming Championships held in Auckland on 1 - 5 April, before preparing for another Para Swimming World Series event in Singapore the following month.

Congratulations to the whole team. A list of the full results are below:



Heat Time

Finals Time

NZ Record

Ella Benn (S9)

100m Backstroke



Erin Knox (S10)

100m Backstroke



Jack Bugler (S14)

100m Backstroke


Ieuan Edwards (S9)

100m Butterfly


Josh Willmer (S9)

100m Butterfly


Asher Smith-Franklin (S14)

100m Butterfly


Open & 16&U

Lili-Fox Mason (S10)

100m Butterfly


Ella Benn (S9)