Avonside Girls' High student Alexandra Laidlaw will represent New Zealand at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in January 2009. The event is a full-on dress rehearsal for future Olympians.
Laidlaw, 16, has been in a Swimming New Zealand performance programme for two years and is aiming to compete at the 2012 Olympics.
The Australian Youth Olympic Festival was first held in 2001 and is a place where future Olympic stars gain international experience in a competitive atmosphere similar to the Olympic Games. They will experience:
The Olympic-style event continues Laidlaw's development as a swimmer - she has been training and swimming competitively since she was eight. She has swum with the New Zealand Youth and Age Group Development Squads, as well as attending Olympic trials and short course championships. Over the past year Alex has been Avonside Girls' Senior Swimming Champion. She won the 50m freestyle and placed second in the 100m butterfly at the Christchurch Secondary Schools Championship meet.