Paddler becomes top water polo player
Not bad for a boy who could barely tread water five years ago.
Today Thomas Kingsmill is one of the top young water polo goalkeepers in New Zealand.
The Kumeu resident is in the national under-18 team heading to the World Youth Water Polo Championships in Perth at the end of this month.
The first tournament for both men and women will pit Thomas's team against Colombia, Croatia, Australia and South Africa and could also be the catalyst for an international professional career if he's spotted by scouts.
"My future career path depends on this tournament," says the competitive 18-year-old Kristin School sports star. "Water polo is my main passion. I love being in the water."
That's poles apart from when he was first asked by a friend to come and play in his school water polo team.
Thomas says he was too embarrassed to say "no, I can't swim", and even his mother Rosemary, a fourth generation netball goal shooter, had to ring up another mum to voice her concerns.
"I didn't know what to expect. Then I asked what you have to wear thinking it would be board shorts and found out it was speedos."
However, like a duck to water, the avid sports player transformed quickly from dog paddling to being water-confident. He has become a potent defender thanks to his "have a go at any sport" and "hate losing" attitude combined with his naturally athletic part-Cook Island physique.
Thomas played plenty of sports at Taupaki School and was in the New Zealand under-15 water polo team.
"I've always been a goalie and other than field play, you get a bit more limelight, but you also cop the banter when a goal gets through," he says.
This year he has won a number of accolades, including a nomination for the ASB young sports person of the year award on November 22. He also won the most valuable player again in the national tournament for his top North Harbour Water Polo Club's under-18 team.
Thomas says all his hard work, long hours and support from his family and school paid off.
He swept up five trophies at senior prizegiving including the sports person award of the year and an award for two or more sports, where he is also a North Harbour basketball representative.
If his water polo career doesn't pan out, he can always aim even higher to become a commercial pilot, following in the air tracks of his former RAF and NZAF father Angus, who is now an Air New Zealand simulator instructor and examiner.
The FINA World Youth Water Polo Championships featuring Thomas's team runs over 10 days starting on December 2. There are 20 countries involved.
To see the Water Polo New Zealand Youtube channel go to http://www.youtube.com/user/NewZealandWP.