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Swimmer Connolly makes history

Tuesday 23 April 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Sports, Tennis

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Swimmer Connolly makes history
Lanihei Connolly made history for Aquatics Cook Islands, claiming the silver medal in the 100m Breaststroke race at the Oceania Championships in the Gold Coast, Australia, over the weekend. ROMANI KATOA/24042202

Cook Islands swimmer Lanihei Connolly made history over the weekend by winning a medal at the Oceania Championships in Gold Coast, Australia.

Connolly, “the Cook Islands golden girl swimmer”, claimed silver medal in the 100 metres breaststroke event.

She is the first female swimmer from the Cook Islands to place in the top 10 of any swim categories in Australia.

Te Arii Bob, son of Jane Aperau and Ben Bob from Sydney, made his debut for the Cook Islands.

He did extremely well, placing fourth in the 50m backstroke in his first international event and setting a huge personal best (PB) time.

Romani Katoa, president of Cook Islands Aquatics, is proud of both Connolly and Bob’s performances.

Connolly is part of a group of swimmers who have been training at the Bull Sharks as the first cohort of the World Aquatics Training Centre established at Bond University, Queensland, Australia.

“Lani has grown and developed really well from last year and is swimming stronger. She will most definitely get faster throughout the year,” said Katoa.

Katoa added: “This is Te Arii’s first appearance for the Cook Islands and he has already improved on his times with a couple of PBs. He’s excited and proud and is gaining some good international experience.”

Last week, Connolly and Wesley Roberts competed at the Australian Opens.

She finished ninth overall in the 50m breaststroke final, again making swimming history as the first Cook Islands female swimmer to place in this event’s top 10.

Roberts made the B final in the 200m freestyle.

Connolly and Roberts will be representing the country at the Paris Olympics to be held from July 26 to August 11, 2024.

Meanwhile, in Aotearoa New Zealand, Cook Islands swimmers Mia Laban and Jacob Story are competing at the New Zealand Age Group Championships and are beating top NZ swimmers in their age groups.

Story finished on top in the16-year age group, four seconds faster than the second swimmer.

He also had an awesome 200 breaststroke race finishing second overall and first for 16 years age group. He was nine seconds faster than the Kiwi swimmer.

Laban had a stunning 100m freestyle race coming in second in the 16 years age category in the heats.

Story and Laban were part of the Cook Islands team at the World Championships in Doha, in February 2024.

“We are very proud of our swimmers and to see them progressing well,” said Katoa.