Paris Olympics 2024: Taiko Torepe-Ormsby becomes first Kiwi to swim 50m freestyle in under 22 seconds

Taiko Torepe-Ormsby celebrates his Olympic qualification time.
Taiko Torepe-Ormsby celebrates his Olympic qualification time. Photo credit: BW Media

Christchurch's Taiko Torepe-Ormsby has set the New Zealand Swimming Championships alight, swimming a New Zealand Record in the marquee sprint event on Saturday afternoon.

Contesting his 50m freestyle heat at the Hawke's Bay Regional Aquatics Centre, Torepe-Ormsby was a cut above, leaving the crowd on their feet and in disbelief as he produced the fastest 50 metre freestyle swim ever by a New Zealander, touching the wall in 21.86 seconds.  

The time is under the Olympic qualification standard and is the first time a New Zealander has ever swum the distance in sub-22 seconds.  

"I'm lost for words to be honest, I’ve dreamed about this moment for my whole life," said Torepe-Ormsby.  

"I’ve been going fast the last couple of days, doing the sets my coach told me and I just can’t believe I got that Olympic time."

Torepe-Ormsby has been living and studying in the United States for the past three years, swimming for the University of Wisconsin.  

Three-time Paralympian Cameron Leslie was also in the pool, hitting another Paris qualification time, winning the 50m freestyle (S4) in 38.14s.  

"That was really good, the goal was for a no-breath 50m, I’d never done that before and did it in a good time so I’m happy as," said Leslie.  

"I just enjoy swimming, I love the training and the competition and it’s great to be here this week."  

Both athletes will be back in the pool for Saturday night's finals session.  

Seven athletes have now hit the Olympic qualification time at the event, while four athletes have hit the Paralympic qualification time.