Gore swimming sensation Sophie Shallard (13) has been selected as one of seven female swimmers in her age group for the national development squad.
Shallard was excited to make the squad as it had meant a lot of hard work paid off.
She has been going through a transitional stage of late with former coach Rhys Pryde-Wall leaving last month.
A new Sharks head swim coach is set to start next week.
“I was a bit nervous. It has been a bit hard recently with Rhys leaving but it will be good to have the new coach soon,” Shallard said.
The development squad is seen as the tier below the national swimming squad.
The national development squad aims to identify and develop talented athletes for the world stage.
Her selection now means she is a member of the Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) high performance development pathway.
“I just want to keep on going with my swimming and keep getting faster and improving,” she said.
The purpose of the squad was to identify potential future SNZ international pinnacle event swimmers.
National head coach, Jerry Olszewski said the national development squad was put together for the top 1% of athletes.
They took on six to 10 athletes of each age group and gender, about 70 athletes part of the squad all up.
“It is a great achievement, absolutely. We target the best,” Olszewski said.
They hoped to offer swimmers and their coaches educational and training opportunities through camps, and direct communication with relevant SNZ staff.
The squad would also establish a squad structure that outlined a clear pathway for swimmers and coaches towards national and international success.
SNZ also hoped to develop the future culture of national swimmers and provide an understanding of the organisation’s values: excellence, integrity and accountability.
In coming months, Shallard’s inclusion in the squad will allow her to attend the SNZ national development squad camp scheduled to take place from October 8 to October 10 in Auckland.
Shallard would also expect regular news from Olszewski, monthly updates from the SNZ high performance staff through their newsletter, and support and endorsement for funding applications to gaming bodies and sponsorship opportunities.
“Every year, the standardto make the squad gets progressively tougher,” he said.
Sophie’s times at the national age group championships allowed her to qualify for the squad.
For the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle, she needed qualifying times of 02:13.98, 04:42.69 and 9:42.30.
Sophie qualified with times of 2:12.18, 04:39.00 and 09:36.58 respectively.