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Rylee Sayer recently swam her way to break open New Zealand swimming records. Photo: SUPPLIED/BWMEDIA

Swimming records for college para-athlete

Rylee Sayer was “over the moon” after breaking New Zealand swimming records at the Swimming Waikato Summer Long Course last month.
The 14-year-old Hauraki Plains College student achieved the open New Zealand records for the 200m breaststroke and the 100m and 200m freestyle and the under 16 New Zealand records for the 400m and 50m freestyle.

Open New Zealand records apply to swimmers aged over 13 years.
Her mother Amanda Sayer told The Profile while her daughter had previously broken New Zealand swimming records, some of the new records were “pretty special”, such as the 200m freestyle, which she did in an 8.5-second personal best and broke the record by seven seconds.
“She was pretty over the moon.
“Within the last year she has broken something ridiculously like 14 New Zealand records or 16 and under New Zealand records.”
Amanda said Rylee competed under the S14 swimming classification for swimmers with intellectual disabilities as she has a rare condition called tuberous sclerosis complex which causes tumour-like growths in her brain, kidneys, heart, and skin.
However, she could still compete with able-bodied athletes at events like the summer long course.
“The only time Rylee ever races in para races is when she goes to national events,” she said.
“She really enjoys that because it really pushes her to improve herself.
“To have a girl like Rylee who does have an intellectual disability… she’s really opening a lot of doors for other girls and she wants to be a role model to get more girls being competitive in that pathway.”
New Zealand paralympian Cameron Leslie looked after the swimming development programme for Rylee and she was coached at Matamata Swimming Club by Graeme Laing, who is the son of the late New Zealand olympic swimming coach, Duncan Laing.
Amanda said Rylee also qualified at the summer long course for the Virtus Global Games to be held in France in June. The games are a pinnacle event for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
“The focus for her now is to keep getting personal bests in the races she’s got records in, so that she can be as competitive as possible when she gets there in June,” she said.
“Rylee is not hoping to get a medal over there because she’ll be racing world record holders and olympic athletes, but she’s going for the exposure of being on the world stage.
“Hopefully she will in the next year or two be looking at world games, Commonwealth Games and then hopefully her target Olympics is in 2028 in Los Angeles.”