A Karapiro School student has her eyes firmly set on gold, both in next year’s swimming season and on the future world stage, following on from a stellar performance in this year’s interschool, regional and national swimming events.
Ten-year-old Olivia Emmett, who has only been swimming competitively for a little over a year, finished up the recent swimming season with a stack of medals and certificates. It all started in February at the National Zonal Junior Swimming Champs in Rotorua, where the then-nine-year-old managed to qualify for ten-year-olds racing – the youngest category at the event – and finished up with several top ten placings.
“It was really hard, and tiring!” Olivia laughed, “But I really enjoyed the races.”
The Year 6 student then competed in the Waikato Junior Swimming Champs over March 10 and 11, winning six gold medals and one silver, and beating her PB (personal best) by ten seconds in the 200m individual medley.
“That was a hard race,” Olivia said, adding that she was “really proud” of the massive medal haul.
Up next was the Cambridge Rural Schools Swimming Sports event held on March 19 – Olivia’s birthday. “It was a good way to celebrate it, swimming,” she said. “It was fun, because I love being in the water constantly.”
It meant Olivia became the youngest swimmer in her division, but that didn’t stop her from finishing with top times to make the combined rural schools team, which then competed at the Cambridge Interschool Swimming Sports on March 29 – where she finished first in the 50m breaststroke, 50m backstroke and 50m freestyle. “I was really really proud that I won them, since I’d just turned ten,” said Olivia, who also competed against intermediate-age swimmers in the open age group butterfly, finishing in a close second place.
Last year she also took part in the NZ Ocean Swim Series, winning her age group to secure one of 36 places on the national Jetstar Super Swim Squad, which were coached in Auckland by Olympians Andy McMillan, Dean Kent and Stephen Kent, and Paralympians Rebecca Dubber and Nikita Howarth. “It was actually quite fun, getting coached by Olympians,” said Olivia, who also wanted to thank her regular coach Helen Barr and part-time coach Alison Fitch.
“The school has been so supportive too,” added Olivia’s mum Mel. “Obviously we’re really proud with how well she’s doing, but it’s also just seeing her doing something that she loves, her determination, and she literally just loves being in the pool, she just trains hard and has fun.”
Olivia trains at the St Peter’s Swimming Club three to four times a week, and in the next swimming season she hopes to collect more gold medals and personal bests, aiming to compete in at least ten races at each event. One day she’d like to represent New Zealand at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, but for now she just has to pace herself.
“I’d like to do some more training when I’m older, because Mum says I’m too young to do more training now,” she said. “I do it because I love being in the water.”