It was a big week for the Waikato Para swimmers at the AON New Zealand Swimming Championships with Tokyo 2020 Olympic berths up for grabs.

Rio 2016 Paralympic Champion, Nikita Howarth (Hamilton Aquatics) qualifies for both the (S7) 50 Butterfly and 200 IM events.

Paralympian #179 Nikita Howarth was New Zealand’s youngest ever Paralympian when she made her Paralympic debut in London 2012 at just 13 years of age. She then went on to win a gold and bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Tokyo 2020 will see Howarth compete at her third Paralympic Games after only returning to the sport of Para swimming less than two years ago after a very successful stint competing in Para cycling. She recently set a new short-course world record in the Women’s 100m Individual Medley SM7, as she returns towards her top form. Howarth is a double limb deficiency.

Jesse Reynolds (Fairfield) qualifies in three events, the (S9) 100m Backstroke, 400 Freestyle & 200 IM.

Paralympian #205 Jesse Reynolds has been a competitive swimmer since the age of 11 and made his Paralympic debut in Rio 2016 where he swam two personal best times. He is currently ranked 6th in the 100 m backstroke S9, where he placed at the 2019 Para Swimming World Championships in London.  Reynolds has a single limb deficiency.

“I’m over the moon for both swimmers and for their respective clubs and coaches. It’s fantastic to have swimmers of this caliber representing the region on the international stage. They have both clearly put in the yards to get this far in their illustrious careers and I wish them all the success as they and their teammates take on the World once again”  Darren Ward, CEO

The full New Zealand Team is comprised of Paralympians, Cameron Leslie, Jesse Reynolds, Nikita Howarth, Sophie Pascoe and Tupou Neiufi. The announcement was made at the  National Training Centre at AUT Millennium today and marks the first group of Para athletes to be announced to the New Zealand Paralympic Team. Between them, the five Para swimmers hold a staggering 20 Paralympic medals and 14 long course world records and they are expected to play a major role in New Zealand’s campaign at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Congratulations to all swimmers and especially to our Mighty Waikato Swimmers, Jesse and Nikita!