Tasman Swimmer Piper Riley with the three gold and five silver medals she won at the Canterbury-West Coast short course swimming championships in Christchurch at the weekend. Photo Jacob Page

Piper earns medals, breaks records in the pool

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Tasman swimmer Piper Riley came home with eight medals in a record-breaking performance at the Canterbury West Coast short course championships in Christchurch on the weekend.

The Waimea Intermediate pupil won three golds and five silvers. She gained victory in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle. She also broke her own Nelson-Marlborough age-group records in the process, having just broken the 100m freestyle record. She did all that while beating swimmers two years older than her.

No distance short or long seems to phase Piper who is currently the fastest 1500m swimmer for her age in New Zealand.

Piper says she remembers learning to swim at age three, but it was her first experience at squad swimming that stands out.

“I remember just being chucked into a pool and being told I was going to swim 1500m right then.

“I remember doing it and thinking when is this going to be over because my arms hurt. I had no idea how far that was in terms of length so I just kept going.”

Piper sneaks into the 13-year-old age group by just eight days for the national championships later this year and is targeting a medal under swim coach Andy Adair. To achieve that, she will continue to get up at 4am five days a week to come to training from Motueka at the Richmond Aquatic Centre.

Piper has read plenty on former and current Kiwi swimmers Danyon Loader and Sophie Pascoe and hopes to one day be an Olympian herself.

“I like the challenge and it’s a mental game,” Piper says about swimming. “I also like to travel and meet lots of people.”

She says she enjoys training with Andy along with the rest of the morning squad.

“Andy’s doing the breaststroke during the races so he’s right into it like he’s racing with you, that’s cool.”