Kōrero: Swimming

Whārangi 4. Great swimmers

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

Eight competitive pool swimmers have been inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. They are:

  • Malcolm Champion (1883–1939)
  • Jean Stewart (1930–)
  • Philippa Gould (1940–)
  • David Gerrard (1945–)
  • Gary Hurring (1961–)
  • Rebecca Perrott (1961–)
  • Anthony Mosse (1964–)
  • Danyon Loader (1975–).

All are Olympic or Commonwealth gold medallists, or both, with the exception of Jean Stewart, who won an Olympic bronze, and Philippa Gould.

Short course and long course

A short course swim takes place in a 25-metre pool, and a long course in a 50-metre pool. Short course swims involve more turns, so a swimmer who excels at long course may not do so well at short course.

A world record

Philippa Gould’s achievement was of a different order. In 2012 she remained the only New Zealand swimmer to set a world long course record.

Gould, who represented New Zealand at the 1956 Olympics as a 15 year old, broke the world record for 200-metre and 220-yard backstroke at the Newmarket Pool, Auckland, on 16 January 1957, with a time for the 200-metre swim of 2 minutes, 39.9 seconds. The following summer, she bettered the existing world marks for the 100-metre and 110-yard backstroke.

Most successful swimmer

In 2012 Danyon Loader was New Zealand’s most successful swimmer. As well as three Olympic medals, his achievements included two world short course records, three world championship medals (one silver and two bronze) and six Commonwealth Games medals. He is the only New Zealand swimmer to be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame (2003).

From swimming to storytelling

New Zealand swimmer Tessa Staveley made headlines when she won a silver medal at the 1958 Empire and Commonwealth Games. Later, as Tessa Duder, she became one of New Zealand’s leading authors for children and young adults. She is perhaps best known for her four ‘Alex’ books, following the fortunes of a teenage competitive swimmer.

A swimming dynasty

Jean Stewart won silver and bronze medals in the 110-yard backstroke at the 1950 and 1954 Empire Games. She also won bronze in the 100-metre backstroke at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

She married the only other swimmer on the 1952 Olympic team, Lincoln Hurring. Their son, Gary, was a backstroke Commonwealth gold medal winner in 1978 and an Olympic finalist in 1984.

Swimmer of the Year

The New Zealand Swimmer of the Year award was presented for the first time in 1959. The Baxter O’Neill Trophy was named after the man who had been secretary of the NZASA for 42 years. The first to receive it was 1958 Commonwealth Games butterfly silver medallist Tessa Staveley.


Swimming successes owe much to the efforts of talented coaches. One, Duncan Laing (1931–2008), has been inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame. Laing coached champion Danyon Loader.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

John McBeth, 'Swimming - Great swimmers', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/swimming/page-4 (accessed 24 July 2024)

He kōrero nā John McBeth, i tāngia i te 5 Sep 2013, updated 27 Jan 2015