December 11, 2023

Fifteen-year-old swimming prodigy breaks NZ record to clinch world champs qualification

Monique Wieruszowski after breaking the national record in the women's 50m breaststroke.

Teen Monique Wieruszowski has announced her arrival on the international swimming scene with a record-breaking performance in the women’s 50m breaststroke at the national championships on Wednesday.

The 15-year-old from New Plymouth stormed home to set an NZ record time of 30.87s – the eighth fastest by a woman in the world this year.

The time also qualified Wieruszowski for the world aquatics championships, meaning she will now be at both the world championships and world juniors championships later this year.

“This is a bit of a dream for me,” said Wieruszowski.

“I’ve been working really hard, training everyday and really working on my starts. I definitely didn’t think I was gonna go that fast. It means so much to me.”

Fellow teen sensation Erika Fairweather rounded out her stellar national champs by blitzing the field in the women’s 800m freestyle.

Days after becoming the sixth-fastest women of all time in the 400m, the 19-year-old claimed another gold with a time of 8m18.00s – just shy of Lauren Boyle’s NZ record of 8m17.65s.

Eve Thomas also qualified for the world champs with a time of 8m 24.98s, with Caitlin Deans joining as the third swimmer under the qualifying time (8m 32.87s).

The podium-topping effort put the finishing touches on a remarkable week in Auckland for Fairweather, taking home gold in 100m, 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle.

“I’m absolutely stoked with how this week has gone for me, I couldn’t be happier,” said Fairweather.

“I feel like our NZ swimmers are massively improving on the world stage, it’s been such a good week.

“In that 800 we just had three girls hitting the qualification time, which we’ve never had in New Zealand before, so to be a part of that is pretty cool.”

Earlier in the evening, Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Lewis Clareburt  hit another World qualifier, this time in the 200m individual medley in a time of 1m 59.14s, wrapping up a successful meet with six medals across seven events.

“It was great to get another world champs time and nice to go close to my PB,” said Clareburt.

“It’s been a great meet. I’ve done loads of events and it’s been really good to see how hard I can go. I’ve definitely got more work to do now and I’m really excited for worlds.”

The world championships take place in Fukuoka, Japan in July.

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