Swimming NZ (SNZ), in partnership with Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ), is delighted to announce the appointment of triple Paralympic gold medallist and world record holder Cameron Leslie to the new role of National Para Swimming Development Coordinator.
Leslie, the gold medallist in the Men’s 150m Individual Medley SM4 at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will lead the development of a New Zealand Para Swimming Strategy.
The role will be based within SNZ and working closely with PNZ and other key stakeholders to ensure an aligned and coordinated pathway from grassroots to high performance is achieved. He will also support Swimming NZ’s 172 clubs to foster, develop and grow Para swimming to ensure a continuous stream of Para swimmers achieving on the world stage.
Currently based in Whangarei, Leslie will move to Auckland to take up the role to be based at Swimming NZ’s offices at the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre.
Leslie sees his new role as a positive move forward for Para swimming in New Zealand.
“This is a great opportunity to grow Para swimming and the pathways from a regional swimmer to higher honours. We have talented athletes and officials in our regions and we want to make sure they have the chance to further themselves,” says Leslie.
This week also marks 10 years since Leslie won his first Paralympic gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
“This is coincidental timing, swimming has changed my life and I want to share that with others and support the process to be even better for the next Para swimmer. My time in the sport has introduced me to a number of great people but I also look forward to meeting those who I may not have crossed paths with as an athlete,” says Leslie.
Leslie is adamant this is not the end of his own sporting career, he will continue Para swimming and Wheelchair rugby.
“I do think I am in a unique position where I am still competing as an athlete and am able to work in a role like this - it's the best of both worlds. I am extremely passionate about giving back to Para sport in New Zealand.”
Swimming NZ CEO Steve Johns is extremely excited to have someone of Cameron’s experience and calibre in this new role.
“As a three-time Paralympic gold medallist and world record holder, Cameron knows what it takes to succeed on the world stage and will bring an unparalleled level of knowledge and understanding to the role as we look to grow the sport of Para swimming in New Zealand.”
PNZ delivers a world leading Para Swimming Programme that currently includes 9 high performance, 12 national development and 30 Para swimmers that are actively engaged in community and regional Para swimming activities. At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games a team of 8 Para swimmers represented New Zealand, with 5 of them contributing to a 10 medal haul, including a record 6 gold. As New Zealand’s National Paralympic Committee and the lead organisation for Para sport, PNZ has a clear goal of transitioning Para sport programmes to National Sports Organisations by 2020, where appropriate. This is an exciting initial step for PNZ and Swimming NZ in the transition of Para swimming.
Paralympics New Zealand Chief Executive Fiona Allan says “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Swimming NZ to develop capability and capacity in Para swimming and for Para swimmers. Cameron will bring a hugely valuable athlete voice to inform and shape the best structures and opportunities for future Para athletes.“
Currently there are 37 Para swimmers competing at Swimming NZ age-group and open events and both Swimming NZ and Paralympics NZ are keen to see this number increase.
Leslie will commence his role with Swimming NZ in late October.