At only 14 years old, Taiko Torepe-Ormsby has been touted as a future star by the Swimming Community.
Torepe-Ormsby arrived in Auckland yesterday to compete at the New Zealand Short Course Swimming Champs with an impressive record, including an array of gold medals, and two NZ Records.
Unfazed by the competition, or the expectation placed on him, Torepe-Ormsby is out to make a statement to his competitors after coming agonisingly close to gold last year.
“I want to come away with a few medals this time. My first year last year, kinda disappointing getting pipped by first place by 0.01 of a second,” says Torepe-Ormsby.
Coach Martin Harris is getting too far ahead and insists on the young Cantabrian taking things one step at a time.
Harris says, “First step here is to try and see where he gets here at this meet and then onwards from there on.”
The Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Maniapoto swimmer has this year alone won a total of nine gold medals at the NZ Age Group and the NZ Secondary School Champs. His biggest achievement is breaking two national records in the 50m backstroke and the 50m butterfly.
“I've been chasing those for a while, last year I was quite close, but I missed out,” says the young swimmer who competes for the Wharenui Swimming Club in Canterbury.
There is a strong Māori presence at this year’s short course championships with local North Shore swimmer Callum Prime (Ngāti Hine), and Wellington’s Atakura Julian taking to the water. Manawatū siblings Paige, Paris and Ryan Cutler – cousins to Torepe-Ormsby – are competing for the Ashurst Aquanauts.
“Māori people love the water. Everyone grew up in it. It's really cool to see that heaps of them are here in the water today.”
He is described as a special talent by club coach Martin Harris. He also believes Taiko still hasn't reached his potential.
“What I see from Taiko is special, definitely in training. There are some areas that he can really improve on that's definitely a key for the future for him,” says Harris.
For Torepe-Ormsby, there's more than just gold medals at stake. Long term, he has the Commonwealth Youth Games in Northern Ireland in 2021 on his mind.
Taiko won his first gold medal today.
50m SC Butterfly: Time: 26.98 (1st)
Torepe-Ormsby, Taiko 14
Wharenui Swim Club 26.98