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Northland’s Te Paki breaks his own national swimming record in 100m backstroke

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Swimming sensation Te Paki is considered the best backstroker in the country in his age group after his record-breaking performance in Auckland this month. Photo/ Michael Cunningham.

Thirteen-year-old Te Paki is Northland’s latest swimming sensation after he broke his own national record at the age group championships in the male 100m backstroke this month.

The Pompallier Catholic College student clocked 1.00.66ms in the swimming finals of the Auckland Age Group competition on March 17.

He shaved 30 milliseconds off the time he set at the age group championships in Hawke’s Bay on December 17.

“I didn’t expect to break my own record, but it feels pretty good,” Te Paki said of his win.

The young swimmer remembers “powering away” from his rivals during his return lap and beating his closest competition by about 2.5 seconds.

His record-breaking performance was a proud moment for the swimmer and his coach Monica Cooper.

Cooper said her student’s win was no ordinary feat.

“In swimming, beating your opponents by such a margin is considered a big win. Usually, you’d be happy to beat someone by a few hundreds of a second in a close professional race.

“And he is only 13. So, he has a very bright future ahead.”

Cooper said her student’s drive to win was fuelled by his competitive nature and love for racing.

“He gets excited every time we have a training session which runs about eight times a week. He just wants to keep getting better at what he does.”

Te Paki enjoyed training with his coach and his teammates who constantly motivated him to become a better swimmer and a person.

 Champion swimmer Te Paki, 13, performing his backstroke.
Photo / Michael Cunningham.
Champion swimmer Te Paki, 13, performing his backstroke.
Photo / Michael Cunningham.

He remembers taking up swimming when he was 9 after he developed a “love” for the sport.

“I used to watch a lot of swimming competitions on the television as a kid. Once I saw these swimmers swim hard and fast at the Olympics and I just remained amazed.

“Since then, I felt it’s something I want to do and my family – especially my nana – really supported me to pursue it.”

Te Paki dreams of representing New Zealand on an international stage like the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.

But he believes in taking one step at a time and is channelling his focus and energy to give his best at the upcoming New Zealand age group championship later this April in Napier.

Avneesh Vincent is the crime and emergency services reporter at the Northern Advocate. He was previously at the Gisborne Herald as the arts and environment reporter and is passionate about covering stories that can make a difference. He joined NZME in July 2023.



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