Swimmer sets sights on Florida

Central Leader - - SPORT -

A self-con­fessed wa­ter baby, Ge­or­gia Marris didn’t re­alise she was good at swimming un­til she won the St Cuth­bert’s Col­lege swimming sports in year 5.

‘‘I re­mem­ber think­ing: ‘ I didn’t know I was so fast!’ ’’

‘‘Ever since then I have been drawn to and con­sumed by swimming.’’

Now eight years later, Ge­or­gia is a record-hold­ing swimmer and has just been awarded a schol­ar­ship to the Univer­sity of Florida.

At the Auck­land Win­ter Cham­pi­onships last year she broke the short course record in 200m freestyle for 16 year olds and at the 2014 New Zealand Age Groups she broke the short course record in 100m freestyle for 17 year olds.

She picked up 24 medals from her two main na­tional com­pe­ti­tions in 2014, in­clud­ing gold in the 100m but­ter­fly, 200m freestyle and 100m freestyle at the New Zealand Age Group Long Course Champs.

In Septem­ber she won her first open medals at na­tional level at the Short Course Na­tion­als, in­clud­ing sil­ver in the 50m but­ter­fly, 200m freestyle and 400m freestyle.

Ge­or­gia swims at the United Swimming Club and does seven or eight pool ses­sions a week with coach Igor Po­lian­ski, an Olympic gold medal­list.

‘‘I love the feel­ing of rac­ing and just be­ing in the wa­ter,’’ she says.

Ge­or­gia was over­whelmed with ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from more than 100 Amer­i­can univer­si­ties.

She nar­rowed down the list to 10, and chose the Univer­sity of Florida based on its ex­cel­lent re­sults in NCAA Di­vi­sion 1 Col­lege Sport and track record of train­ing swim­mers on the in­ter­na­tional stage.

‘‘You can’t say no to an of­fer like that – the support in Florida is just in­cred­i­ble.’’

She’s in good company too, with four other Kiwi swim­mers also com­pet­ing at the univer­sity, in­clud­ing Com­mon­wealth Games ath­lete Corey Main.

Ge­or­gia leaves for the United States on De­cem­ber 27, starts train­ing two days later and has her first swim meet on Jan­uary 3.

She’s look­ing for­ward to the in­creased rac­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties liv­ing in the United States will bring and hopes that will pre­pare her for the 2016 Olympic tri­als.

Photo: SI­MON WATT

Wa­ter baby: Ge­or­gia Marris is a promis­ing prospect for New Zealand swimming.

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