20 Under 20: The New Zealand Females Under 20yrs You Need to Be Watching

This is part 2 of a 2-part series. The other half of the 20 under 20, the males, can be found here.

New Zealand is a country full of prospects. While the country has struggled at the elite international level since the retirement of former World Record holder Lauren Boyle back in 2017, this looks set to shift with an extremely strong class of young swimmers rising up the international ranks. We’ve compiled a list of 20 of the top swimmers in the country under the age of 20 – 10 males and 10 females. Listed below are 10 of the best female swimmers under the age of 20, who are looking most likely to break out and make an impact on a world stage in the near future. Let us know your thoughts on their potential and on prospects who weren’t included. These are listed in no particular order.

Note: The World Rankings are the top times from 1st January 2019 through to the current date and are LC times only. 

Erika Fairweather

  • Age: 15
  • Events: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m freestyle
  • Highest World Ranking: 42nd (400 freestyle: 4:12.10 – PB 4:12.10)
  • Biggest Achievement: 4th at Junior Pan Pacifics, Qualified World Junior Champs

Why You Should Be Paying Attention: Fairweather is inches away from individual qualification for Tokyo despite only being 15-years-old. She is undoubtedly one of the fastest 15-year-olds on the planet and hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down – at the NZ Age Champs in April she hit sizable lifetime bests in all of her 8 events setting some of the fastest times in NZ history for any age. Fairweather will go into World Junior Champs a strong contender to make finals if not go beyond that.

Gabrielle Fa’amausili

  • Age: 19
  • Events: 50m & 100m freestyle, 50m & 100m backstroke
  • Highest World Ranking: N/A
  • Biggest Achievement: Former World Junior Record Holder

Why You Should Be Paying Attention: At age 13, Fa’amausili broke the World Junior Record in the 50m backstroke and two years later backed it up picking up her second World Junior Champs title and breaking her own World Junior record to hit 27.81. While her 50m backstroke has remained constant since then, her freestyle has come on significantly down to a world class 25.02 LCM and her 100m backstroke down to a 1:00.76. She is currently training at University of Georgia and recovering from an ACL tear in 2018. Despite this setback Tokyo is definitely on the cards for the 19-year-old.

Bobbi Gichard

  • Age: 19
  • Events: 100m & 200m backstroke
  • Highest World Ranking: N/A
  • Biggest Achievement: 2015 & 2017 World Champs Qualification

Why You Should Be Paying Attention: Since 2013 Bobbi Gichard has been an elite international athlete. Gichard’s best 100m backstroke sits just splits outside of the Tokyo qualification mark at 1:00.41. While she has struggled to maintain this time since hitting it in 2015, she showed signs of a return to her peak form earlier this year winning two NCAA D2 titles in the 100m and 200m backstroke. If she can get down to her lifetime bests Tokyo is well in grasp.

Gina Galloway

  • Age: 18
  • Events: 100m & 200m backstroke
  • Highest World Ranking: 200th (100 backstroke 1:02.92 – PB: 1:02.25)
  • Biggest Achievement: 5th Junior Pan Pacs

Why You Should Be Paying Attention: Galloway has a wealth of youth level international experience behind her – Youth Commonwealth Games, Junior Pan Pacs, Youth Olympics among others – and recently committed to rising college team UCSD with esteemed coach David Marsh. Her 100m backstroke is her fastest event and lies around two seconds outside Tokyo qualification. Qualification individually for Tokyo would be tough but not impossible for the 18-year-old, and she will be a contender for the 4×100 medley relay spot as well.

Brearna Crawford

  • Age: 16
  • Events: 50m, 100m & 200m breaststroke, 50m & 100m butterfly
  • Highest World Ranking: 102nd (200 breaststroke 2:30.05 – PB: 2:30.05)
  • Biggest Achievement: World Junior Champs qualification

Why You Should Be Paying Attention: Crawford just wrapped a hugely successful national age groups coming away with 6 national titles and 4 national age records. She dropped almost 2 seconds from her 200m breaststroke finishing in a time that would’ve been a finalist at the 2017 World Juniors. Despite sitting a few seconds short of individual Tokyo qualification, she is now the fastest 100m breaststroker in the country of any age putting her in a strong position for a relay spot.

Mya Rasmussen

  • Age: 18
  • Events: 200m & 400m IM
  • Highest World Ranking: N/A
  • Biggest Achievement: Youth Commonwealth Games gold

Why You Should Be Paying Attention: Rasmussen at 15 blasted an incredible 4:46.87 in the 400m IM to win the Australian Age Champs by over 7 seconds. Her lifetime best sits at 4:42.19 from Youth Commonwealth Games which sits just over 3 seconds outside the individual Tokyo qualifying. While she has struggled to hit this time recently, it is worth noting that she has changed coaching so individual qualification Tokyo remains on the cards.

Eve Thomas

  • Age: 18
  • Events: 200m, 400m & 800m freestyle
  • Highest World Ranking: 52nd (800m freestyle 8:43.32 – PB: 8:43.32)
  • Biggest Achievement: Junior Pan Pacific Qualification

Why You Should Be Paying Attention: Thomas is the fastest 800m freestyler in the country right now and her recent lifetime best puts her just outside the world top 50. She trains with St. Peters Western with fellow kiwi Michael Pickett and has been making bounds since joining. Her 800m freestyle now sits just 9 seconds from Tokyo qualification which while tough is still possible. Her 200m freestyle is also solid and has potential for a 4x200m freestyle spot should a New Zealand team qualify.

Amadika Atkinson

  • Age: 17
  • Events: 50m, 100m & 200m freestyle
  • Highest World Ranking: N/A
  • Biggest Achievement: World Juniors Qualification

Why You Should Be Paying Attention: Atkinson trains in Australia but competes for New Zealand. Earlier this year she dropped a 2:02.58, just over her lifetime best, to qualify for the World Junior championships. The Tokyo standard is set at 1:57.29 which is unrealistic but a relay spot in a 4x200m relay is viable and if not she will only be 22 in 2024 so Paris is a realistic target.

Gina Mccarthy

  • Age: 16
  • Events: 200m freestyle, 200m & 400m IM
  • Highest World Ranking: N/A
  • Biggest Achievement: National Records

Why You Should Be Paying Attention: Mccarthy has been dominant on an age group level since age 12. She shows very strong versatility (at the recent National Age Champs she picked up medals in sprint freestyle, IM and backstroke). While Tokyo is unrealistic for the 16-year-old she has a good chance to compete for NZ at an elite level over the coming years should she continue to improve.

Ciara Smith

  • Age: 18
  • Events: 100m & 200m breaststroke
  • Highest World Ranking: N/A
  • Biggest Achievement: National Records

Why You Should Be Paying Attention: Smith has dominated the 200m breaststroke in New Zealand at an open level for the last 2 years. She holds two current national records including the 18-year-old 200m breaststroke set by her a few weeks ago at National Age champs. While individual qualification seems like a stretch for Tokyo, she will most definitely be in a battle with Brearna Crawford to try and secure a relay spot in the 4x100m Medley relay

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Chase Bloch
3 years ago

Laticia Transom

3 years ago

Good list again swimswam. Maybe a bit less depth here? Good prospects if those US-based gals get shifting – medley relay in making with Fa’amausili, Gichard/Galloway, Crawford/Smith? Think SNZ should have taken a punt on Mya Raz at the Comm games, could have done a Clareburt. Think it set her back but great to see her in form at NZ Age Groups and heading back to her best.

Devils advocate
Reply to  Kiwiswim
3 years ago

I would have to disagree there. Clareburt showed consistent form and progression leading into the Games. “Raz” unfortunately didn’t produce times in late 2017 into 2018 that would have meritted a punt. There is no doubt that Mya’s best 400Im was a great swim, but i think in order to be considered progression is key. 2 times at commonwealth games snz has done this, 1 Gareth Kean, 2 Lewis Clareburt, both produced medals and both progressed consistently at each big meet they swum.

Reply to  Devils advocate
3 years ago

Fair call….
Just think it was a team that needed more nod to the future and she would have been an interesting late pick alongside Claerburt. But accept it would have been a wildcard type selection