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The start of something extraordinary

Kiwi teenage swimming talent takes on best at Junior Pan Pacs

New Zealand’s leading teenage swimming talent compete in the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii starting Wednesday (local time).

The event draws full strength junior teams from USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, China as well as Pacific and other non-European nations, with swimmers between the ages of 13 to 18 years.

The meet is an important stepping stone for young swimmers who have aspirations towards competing at senior pinnacle events including the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.

Leading the way for the team is teenage star Gabrielle Fa’amausili (United), although the current World Junior Champion in the 50m backstroke will not contest her favoured event as the meet follows the Olympic format.

The 16-year-old is ranked sixth in the 100m backstroke and seventh in the 50m freestyle.

Her fellow World Junior Championship team mates Yeonsu Lee and Annabelle Paterson will help bring experience to the team while a number of the swimmers will be getting their first taste of a pinnacle youth competition.

Manawatu’s Mya Rasmussen is one of those swimmers and will be one to watch after winning the 400m individual medley at the Australian Age Group Championships earlier this year as well as claiming silver in the 200m breaststroke and 200m individual medley.

Rasmussen is the current age group record holder in 15 years 200m and 400m individual medley and is ranked 7th in the 400m individual medley.

Also in the team is Commonwealth Youth Games swimmer Eliot Lundon-Moore and Australian Age Group Championship medallists Zac Reid and Hayley McIntosh, as well as Kelsi Boocock (North Shore) who is the national 17-18 years champion in the 100m backstroke and Lewis Clareburt who won four national age group titles earlier this year.

Missing from the team is Youth Olympic medallist Bobbi Gichard due to injury.

The competition starts on Wednesday (Hawaii time) in Kihei on Maui with heats from 9am and finals at 5pm local time at the outdoor facility that hosted the Junior Pan Pacs in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2014.

The New Zealand Swimming team is:

Kelsi Boocock (North Shore), Lewis Clareburt (Capital), Gabrielle Fa’amausili (United, Auckland), Yeonsu Lee (North Shore), Eliot Lundon-Moore (Aquabladz New Plymouth), Hayley McIntosh (Northwave, Northland), Annabelle Paterson (United), Mya Rasmussen (Kiwi West, Manawatu), Zac Reid (Aquabladz New Plymouth), Donna Bouzaid (Head Coach), Igor Polianski (Team Coach).

CAPTION: The 2016 Junior Pan Pacific Championships Team