Laura Littlejohn by Image supplied

Laura Littlejohn represents New Zealand at World Championships

Laura Littlejohn travelled to Abu Dhabi in December to compete in the 15th FINA Senior World Short Course (25m) Swimming Championships, as the only representative from New Zealand. This competition was her first senior international meet after 18 months of Covid-19 cancellations, including the World Junior Championships. 

Laura competed in a warm-up meet in Dubai before the competition where she set three New Zealand Age Group records and was the overall winner in the 16 year old and over girls' category. This event followed a fun week of training with the Speedo Swim Squads, based at International Schools in Dubai. She met students and athletes from around the world, who were currently residing in the Emirates.

At the World Championships, Laura raced four events, gaining a best finish of 18th in the 100m freestyle and finishing between 20-24th in her other 50m freestyle, 200m freestyle and 100m individual medley events. There were up to 90 swimmers entered in each of these events. During this meet, she broke a further two New Zealand Age Group records.

A highlight of the experience was getting to train and race with some of the superstars of world swimming, watching world records fall and learning from the best.

Just getting to Abu Dhabi was a triumph after numerous setbacks, hurdles, weeks of pool closures and cancelled meets due to lockdowns and navigating the MIQ booking system. Laura lived and trained away from the Waikato for six weeks prior to the trip to give herself the chance to compete. The trip was an example of setting then resetting your goals when things don’t go as planned and doing whatever it takes to achieve them.

Thank you to the numerous clubs and coaches throughout New Zealand who provided an opportunity to train. Thanks to Graham Smith and Alby King for guiding Laura throughout the four months leading up to the championships, during which most of it was spent outside of the Waikato. Also thank you to Swim Waikato, New Zealand Swimming Alumni, Swimming New Zealand and St Paul's Collegiate School Parents Association for their support.