Rangi Ruru student Sophia Batchelor has been named in the 30-strong national swim squad selected to compete at the Pacific School Games in Canberra in 2008. Of those 30, just three come from Canterbury - Batchelor, from AquaGym Swim Club, and Natasha Lloyd and George Eglesfield of Kaiapoi Swim Club.
The Pacific School Games is an international sporting event for primary and secondary school students aged ten to nineteen. It is the flagship event of School Sport Australia and will be held in Canberra in late 2008. The competition will be held at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Swimming complex.
Batchelor, 13, is in Swimming New Zealand’s Age Group Programme, designed to prepare top young swimmers for the training and competitive demands of international swimming. Swimmers participate in performance and lifestyle monitoring tests to ensure they have swim specific fitness and race specific skills for New Zealand success at national and international level. The eventual goal is the 2012 Olympics.
Batchelor holds the New Zealand record for the 13-year-old 50m butterfly short course record (29.27s) as well as Canterbury records for the 13 years 50m and 100m butterfly, the 100m and 200m backstroke short course.
Batchelor started swimming with Learn to Swim coach, Ruth Woolley, at three months old, and kept up her lessons at QEII until she was eight. In 2005 she joined the AquaGym club and won five gold medals at her first swim meet. She was hooked.
Batchelor says a lot of her achievements come through the encouragement of the others in the squad - especially since moving up to the Open squad where she is pushed at training by swimming older age groups.
Once she forgot her flippers and was told she had to keep up with others who all had flippers so she really pushed herself hard … the next week she did nine personal bests and broke the 200m Canterbury backstroke record.
Sophia has given up dance, hockey and water polo this year for swimming, and sets herself high standards for sport and school work.