WJR & Gold For Kiwi Gabrielle Fa’amausili & Minna Atherton & AUS Celebrate Same

Gabrielle Fa'amausili denied Minna Atherton a WJR and a third gold but the Australia celebrated both those things with teammates straight after - main image courtesy of Swimming New Zealand Photo: Simon Watts - bwmedia

World Junior Championships, Day 5 finals: Five titles up for grabs. the girls’ 1500m freestyle; the boy’s 400IM, two dashes, the 50 ‘fly for the boys, the 50 back for the girls – and the 4x100m free, which will feature Minna Athertin after the Australian has raced for the backstroke triple

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World Junior Championships, Day 5 finals: Five titles up for grabs. the girls’ 1500m freestyle; the boy’s 400IM, two dashes, the 50 ‘fly for the boys, the 50 back for the girls – and the 4x100m free, which will feature Minna Athertin after the Australian has raced for the backstroke triple



That WAS a very entertaining relay !! Certainly AUS “bookends” (Jack & McJannett) swam above their individual form at this meet. Well done !

RUS were even throughout. CAN were, if anything, slightly disappointing. Ruck came home like a steam-train but Oleksiak’s opening leg was below her individual form. JAP were close throughout the race and maybe unlucky not to medal. USA …. were out of it after halfway.

Excellent swims by Fa’amausili & Atherton. Sadly for NZL, 50 appears to be Fa’amausili’s race & Gichard looks the better 100 prospect & not without a shout of Rio qualification.

Are Chalmers and perhaps Rooney “running out of gas” ? Evidence to suggest that the former may indeed be doing so after backing up from Kazan. Spajari certainly sent a clear warning shot & the bookies may be reassessing their odds.

Both womens 100FLY & 50FS looking very open & interesting races. Not willing to wager a favourite.

clive rushton

Totally agree about the selfies. Now that is where FINA should be exercising their muscle.


Oleksiak swimming the 100M butterfly shortly before the relay was not ideal.
Simona Quadarella is 16? Ledecky 18
Selfies should carry a mandatory 2 year ban.

Craig Lord

Hard to exercise muscle when there’s so much fat and flab to get past, Clive


ROFLAO re the selfie 2 year ban !! Then again, knowing FINA’s delicacy of touch they may just take you up.

Ger, fair point re Oleksiak but then again, she was not the sole “inconvenienced party” as a number of others also had earlier races (50FS/50BK).


Am I right in thinking that Shayna Jack is doing a Kukla?

Meaning, her best swims were swum when she was 14 and she’s now regressing?

Craig Lord

Yes, 16 and 18, Ger… I meant both at 16… tweaked, point the same one. Thanks for spot


Hey Craig

Gabrielle Fa’amausili is Samoan. Born and raised in New Zealand – a real powerhouse of a swimmer. She has been around knocking on the Open ranks in NZ for some years due in large part to early maturation and had struggled to translate the 50 speed into the 100. After losing her way a bit in the last few years, and not progressing as she should (and Swimming NZ had hoped – desperate as they were for new talent), she has changed coach FINALLY, and is now being coached by Igor Polianski (Olympic 200m Backstroke Seoul) whose United SC in Auckland has now recently become the top NZ club having dethroned North Shore SC at the recent NZ Short Course Nationals.

Expect to see some good things, provided they can keep her injury free.

Craig Lord

Many thanks for all the info, noted and copy tweaked, h2tk. Appreciated.


Interesting background info, h2tk. NZ has had a history of producing some international class back-strokers with the likes of Gary Hurring, Paul Kingsman & Anna Simsic. Fa’amausili & Gichard are showing some signs of following in that tradition.

Not sure that Jack has necessarily “regressed”, ASW ; may be more accurate to say her progression has stalled at 54high over 100. WILL be interesting to see the long term ramifications of the C1/C2 ascendancy on AUS female sprinting.

paolo rubbiani

As Italian, proud for Quadarella’s performance.
She has a great, natural endurance and the ability to improve herself when counts more: her previous PB was 21 seconds slower..
After Rio, when perhaps Ledecky won’t swim 1500 free yet, Quadarella is a good bet as a medal contender.

After the great Paltrinieri, 1500sl is an Italian job.. lol

About 4×100 free, to note the Oleksiak was tired both for 100 fly and 50 free swum before.
Better, perhaps, if Ruck would have swum lead-off for Canada, so Smith and Harvey could have swum in smooth waters and Oleksiak in anchor trying to finish the work.

About 50 back, Fa’Amausili is a great 50 specialist, Atherton a great backstroke talent who’s going to become stronger and stronger (I think more than Fa’Amausili) also in 50. But her focus will be olympic races.


I just hope Spajari didn’t fire all his cylinders a bit too early.Even in Brazil he wasn’t expected to beat Felipe Ribeiro(seeded with 49.16). A true underdog(“Zebra” we call it in Brazil).
Spajari was 11th in Dubai with 50.49.
Chalmers still is my favourite to win.

A curiosity:Brazil never won a gold medal in Junior Worlds in an Olympic event.

Quadarella time surprised me.Great evolution!

paolo rubbiani

@Ddias: Pedro Spajari is a very interesting sprinter.
Very light on the water, few muscles, his physical structure is very different from that of Mateus De Santana or other sprinters.

Today, nice job Zebra.. and we’ll see tomorrow how he will manage the pressure of the final.

In general, close final: Chalmers and Rooney remain the favourites, but not the great favourites, because Zebra appears strong not for his muscles but in the water..


paolo rubbiani,
just one explanation:Zebra is not a nickname for him.Is the common term for an underdog winning an event/situation when is not expected.We use that term in soccer games a lot.Think of Milan losing a game for a third division team.

About De Santana:He is still learning how to race his best 100free.I just hope his coach let the experimentation phase for this year(like Fratus did in 50free) and do the common thing for next year.The excess of supplements didn’t help him to improve.


As I said last year, Brazil should have sent Santana to Pan Pacs last year instead of youth games. He would have had experience swimming with the big fish.


Thank you Craig for the tweak. Samoa can be rightfully proud of those in recent years with Samoan heritage making a splash. Several years back NZ had another swimmer of Samoan background, Orinoco Fa’amausili Banse-Prince (related to Gabrielle) who was also a World Junior Champ and who became a 2008 Olympian in the 4 x 100Free. In recent years there have been other WJ Champs from NZ such as Daniel Bell, Kurt Bassett, Gareth Kean, (all backstrokers), Natalie Wiegersma, who became very good senior swimmers and Olympians (except Bassett).

But here is the issue – to make the step up into the world senior ranks is huge. The danger of feinting Junior/Age Group swimmers is to forget that swimming is not a precocious sport. Despite the teenagers that pepper the World Champs and Olympic finals, the average age of an Olympic finalist is still mid to late 20s.

So what do I think of NZ’s Fa’amausili and Gichard, both 15 years old, and by comparison Atherton, also 15 years old? Wait until they are 18 years old and see whether they are still lighting the world on fire. Personally, I think Atherton is more likely to step up onto the senior stage. Why? Because Australia have a much better track record of taking precocious talent and nurturing it through to the very top. New Zealand do not.


paolo rubbiani – I’m going to say something that might be a bit controversial.

There is no such thing as a 50m specialist! And more particularly, there is no such thing as an Junior/Age Grouper 50m specialist.

Fa’amausili is a case in point. She was genetically disposed to being early maturing, powerful at 10/11 years old. Think Polynesian explosiveness (and ‘commonwombat’ will understand this), NRL and Rugby Union players, American NFL players, and you will get the drift. Sheer anaerobic systems at play here. IMO, the reason why she only seemed to get attention for her 50s was not because she was a 50m specialist, but because her coach didn’t know how to train her to translate that sheer power and speed into the 100s, which were ordinary, to say the least. Thankfully she has changed coach and frankly it is showing. Her technique was appalling but they have clearly worked hard on that and this week is the first time she has shown anything like a translation of her sheer speed into the 100m. Posting a 1:00.8 twice is massive progress. But still almost 1.5 off Atherton.

Craig Lord

Yes, celebrate the moment, by all means, h2tk, but wait … supporting talented youth on a difficult journey from fast 15-17yr old to senior waters is hugely important, the tales of the likes of Brooke Hanson and Therese Alshammar among those very relevant to the theme of longevity and overcoming the struggle of girl to woman in world waters.


Craig, Brooke Hanson certainly deserved awards for perserverance but her obstacle was less that of “girl to woman” but more an issue of the log-jam of female breaststrokers in AUS from the mid90s through to early 00’s.

You had the likes of Sam Riley, Helen Denman, Nadine Neumann, Rebecca Brown, then Liesel Jones came on the scene. All of these were either WR holders at one point and/or Olympic/World medallists/finalists at worst.

H2TK, as a cross Springbok/Aussie am very well aware of the physical attributes of the Polynesians LOL ! Will be very interesting to see how she fares in the lead-in to Rio trials.

Craig Lord

commonwombat – Brooke spoke at length about the plateau she reached and stayed at during 2-3 years of youth to senior transfer: I wrote a large feature on it at the time she won 6 world s/c golds … great quotes, very relevant, so not all about log-jam… it was also about sticking but persevering, working through body changes and the natural cycle of change – and getting the support to remain and see it through.


Fair enough, Craig; as you’ve obviously spoken to her & have her views.

paolo rubbiani

Thanks for the explanation DDias, and interesting news about Mateus De Santana who last year had an impressive improving curve of his times.

Also thanks to h2tk for his interesting opinion about Fa’Amausili.


Here in NZ, we have seen it before. Young talent that has prospered at a World Junior level, and the “institutional” message they, and the NZ public are given is “stick with us in our NZ domestic centralised programmes and we will get you to the Olympic podium”. And yet since the heady days of Danyon Loader, our NZ programmes have no proven track record of being able to deliver on that promise.

Ah, but you say, what about NZ’s Lauren Boyle? Perfect example of this – she was a very good age-grouper who was seen as just a relay swimmer on the national team. Her breakthrough came after she LEFT New Zealand for the NCAA under Teri McKeever and UCal, in those crucial “girl to woman” years. Then under Mark Regan, until he became another casualty of the SNZ institutional failings. And where does she train now? In Australia under Denis Cotterell. She has got to where she is DESPITE the NZ system, not because of it.

For Fa’amausili and Gichard, the pressure to become the next Lauren Boyle is enormous by a very fickle sports-mad public and the institution of Swimming New Zealand who are desperate for good news to sustain their very existence and the centralised funding requirements of their programme. And yet the majority of the NZ team at this year’s World Champs train off-shore, which is hugely embarrassing to SNZ.

But Boyle will be 28 years old this year! These girls are 15 years old. I genuinely fear for these girls.

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