Olympian Lara Grangeon & New Caledonia Top the Swimming Medals at the 2023 Pacific Games

2023 Pacific Games

  • November 20-25, 2023 (swimming portion)
  • Honiara, Solomon Islands
  • LCM (50 meters)
  • Results

The swimming portion of the 2023 Pacific Games occurred in the Solomon Islands from November 20th to 25th. 

The multi-sport Pacific Games was started by the international South Pacific Commission with the intent to strengthen the bonds between Pacific islands and nations. The first iteration occurred in 1963, and the event is now held every four years. 

The countries and territories competing in the Games are American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. Australia and New Zealand have only been invited since 2015 to participate solely in limited events, not including swimming. Both para and able-bodied events are part of the Games, though without Para swimming.

Swimming Medals table 

Rank Gold  Silver  Bronze Total
1 New Caledonia 23 21 13 57
2 Tahiti  5 9 15 29
3 Fiji 2 7 5 14
4 Samoa  4 3 3 10
5 Cook Islands 4 2 1 7
6 Federated States of Micronesia  3 1 4
6 Northern Mariana Islands  1 3 4
7 American Samoa  1 1 2
8 Papua New Guinea  1 1

New Caledonia had a significant lead for first place with 57 total medals, almost twice the totals for second place. They had large individual contributors in Ethan Dumesnil (2 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze), John-William Dabin (2 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze), and Lara Grangeon

This year saw the return of Lara Grangeon, who competed in the 10 km open water marathon representing France for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (New Caledonia is a territory of France and its athletes represent France at the majority of international competitions). She also represented France in Rio 2016 and London 2012 in pool swimming events. After an absence at the Pacific Games in 2019, she improved on her impressive 11 gold medals in 2015 by leading the medal count with 13 gold medals in these Games between pool and open water events. 

Tahiti’s medal count included distance and open water medal finishes from Nael Roux (3 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze). Fiji also had significant contributions by 16-year-old Kelera Mudunasoko (1 gold, 2 silver) and 14-year old Anahira McCutcheon (1 silver, 3 bronze). Wesley Roberts also contributed to Cook Islands well with his three gold, one silver, and one bronze finishes.

Samoa, who won its first-ever Pacific swimming gold medals in 2019 made a four gold impact even without star Brandon Schuster. Olivia Borg was a breakout for Samoa with winning four individual gold in the 50 fly, 50 free, 100 fly, and 100 freestyle. She additionally won silver in the 200 fly and bronze in the 200 free. 

Records Broken

Both womens and mens previous Pacific Games 200 backstroke records broke with New Caledonia’s Lara Grangeon (2:19.62) in heats and John-William Dabin in finals (2:06.83). New Caledonia also broke their own Games record in the 4×50 freestyle relay by .55 seconds from the previous Games. Wesley Roberts from Cook Islands also set a new record in the 100 freestyle, breaking an eight year record (50.05). 

Tasi Limtiaco of Federated States of Micronesia not only earned their first Games swimming medal, but earned three golds and a silver for his team. He earned a “triple crown” by gaining gold in the 50, 100, and 200 breaststroke. 

Isaiah Aleksenko also broke the Pan American Games USA swimmer and CNMI Sports Hall of Famer Jonathan Sakovich’s 1988 territory record after his finish in the 200 fly. Aleksenko and the Northern Mariana Islands team, including NMI Swimming federation vice president John Hirsh, were enthusiastic about the team’s performance to Radio New Zealand even after facing difficulties training.

“Our swimmers, despite not having a 50m pool in Saipan, have shown tremendous focus and determination,” Hirsh said. “Countless hours of practice in the ocean and hotel pools have enabled our swimmers to win medals at the games. All their hard work has paid off with several new NMI national and age group records, and personal best times.”

The next Pacific Games will take place in Tahiti in 2027. 

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3 months ago

Emma Terebo competes for France, so I’m pretty sure she represents New Caledonia and not Samoa.