New Zealand’s Bobbi Gichard Changes Commitment from Florida to Queens

After announcing a verbal commitment to Florida in January, New Zealand backstroker Bobbi Gichard has switched gears and committed to four-time NCAA champion Queens University of Charlotte. Gichard told SwimSwam:

“I’m loving Queens at the moment and feel like it is a better fit for me“

Gichard comes to Queens armed with extensive international experience. She first represented Team New Zealand at the 2013 FINA World Junior Championships. The following year she claimed a bronze medal in the 100m backs at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. She also competed at the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan where she competed in the 50/100/200 back and set a PB in the 200 (2:13.45). In 2015 she won a bronze medal at FINA World Junior Championships in the 100 back and set the girls‘ 15-year-old NZ Age Group Record with 1:00.42. Also in 2015 she won gold in the 100/200 backstroke events at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa. In 2017, Gichard won NZ national titles in the 100/200 back and was runner-up in the 50 back, thus qualifying for the 17th FINA World Championships as part of the women’s 4×100 medley relay. She also competed in the 100/200 backstroke individual events in Budapest.

Gichard swims for Auckland’s Howick Pakuranga club. Her top times include:

Top times (converted to SCY):

  • 50 back LCM – 28.40 (25.04)
  • 100 back LCM – 1:00.42 (53.35)
  • 200 back LCM – 2:10.87 (1:55.73)

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Interesting to how Queens attracts so much international excellence despite it being D2, does anyone know why?


Charlotte is a world class city.


Can get decent training with relatively-soft entrance requirements. School has a 79% acceptance rate (Florida is 38%), and only requires a 79 TOEFL score (though not particularly relevant for someone from NZ). Also probably lots of scholarship money available. 1:00.42 is worth a full ride at Queens, might not be worth as much at a D1 school. If I thought swimming was my career (a lot more national money available for top swimmers from small countries), might be worth it to take a full ride, not have to work as hard in school (most foreign countries don’t know the difference between a Queens degree and a big state school degree), and start collecting federation checks.


Used to be cause they could train with SwimMac Elite with Marsh and Dugdale. The city has a lot to do with it in terms of post graduate opportunities in the job market. Program has done so well recently that it stands out as a top tier program regardless of what NCAA Division it’s in


Sometimes it is better to do D2 if is 1 year or more since graduating high school (or similar in other countries) since you only have 5 years to complete your 4 years in D1 unless there are special circumstances


Your five year NCAA “clock” has nothing to do with when you graduate from high school. It doesn’t start until you enroll in college. If you are 50 years old and never enrolled in college, you still have all your NCAA eligibility


While the above rule is correct regarding the 5 year clock; there is another rule which states that you lose a year of eligibility after the first year past high school graduation in which you compete but do not attend a university. So a 21 or 22 year old international swimmer who continued to compete before enrolling might have limited years of eligibility in D1.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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