Paralympian Fisher eyeing medals in California

Last updated 12:42 03/07/2014
Mary Fisher

SUPERFISH: Wellington disabled swimmer Mary Fisher is after more medals.

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Wellington swimmer Mary Fisher is hoping to beat her own world record times when she leaves for California on July 27 for the Pan Pacific championships.

At her first Pan Pacs, Fisher collected a silver medal and two bronzes.

"Hopefully I'll bring back more medals this time," she said. "I know that I can go faster."

It's been a good couple of years for Fisher, who last month won the Wellington Sportswoman of the Year and Disabled Athlete of the Year awards for the second successive year.

Fisher, a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, set four world records last year, and was a Halberg Award finalist.

The 21-year-old swimmer suffers from aniridia. She was born with no irises and 10 per cent vision.

She competes with blacked out goggles in the athletes with disability category. She is tapped on the head with a long tapper to indicate her progress towards each end of the pool.

At 11, she qualified for the junior nationals - restricted to those aged under 13 - no mean feat for a vision-impaired swimmer.

"That was really exciting - I swam 50 butterfly and 50 freestyle," she said.

She went on to win world championships and set world record times in the 100m butterfly and freestyle distances, and holds the world record for 200m individual medley, and two other butterfly distances.

She has had two career highlights. At the 2012 London Paralympics, she won a gold medal, two silvers and a bronze.

And last year she won five events at the Paralympic world championships in Montreal.

"Winning five events at the worlds was just amazing."

Fisher is from Upper Hutt but has lived in Newtown since 2012 and is a member of the Capital Swimming Club. She is coached by Auckland-based Jon Shaw, New Zealand's head para coach.

She juggles her part-time work at Parents of Vision Impaired and her third-year Massey studies in psychology and meets Shaw every fortnight in either Auckland or Wellington.

"He's very talkative - he's a good coach," Fisher said. "I really trust his judgement - and he's fun to be with".

Though Fisher is an experienced Olympian, she is unable to compete in the Commonwealth Games.

"They don't have anything in my S11 classification for vision- impaired athletes".

Last year, Fisher addressed a camp of 21 competitive swimmers with a disability, outlining her experiences at international events, and providing encouragement.

"Half the kids were a mini version of myself; excited by being in the water, and wanting to improve," she said.

"It's important that we have a base of younger swimmers coming through."

The Pan Pacific championships, will be held in Pasadena from August 6 till 10

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- The Wellingtonian

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