Teen Bobbi Gichard has swum into medal contention for tonight's final on the opening day of action in the pool at the Youth Olympic Games in China.
Overnight, the 14-year-old from Hawke's Bay finished third fastest in the semifinals of the 100m backstroke in Nanjing.
Her team-mate and New Zealand flagbearer Gabrielle Fa'amausili was 11th fastest and missed out on the A final.
Elsewhere, the men's hockey team thumped Zambia 8-2 in their pool game and the men's beach volleyball team got off to a good start. Nate Moore and Kahyrangi Robinson battled their way past the Congo 21-8, 22-20 in their opening pool match.
But Gichard was the star of the Kiwi effort, producing an excellent race in the faster second semifinal, going out strongly in 30.25s and zooming home in 31.45s, the second fastest of all swimmers. She clocked 31.70s to be third in her semifinal won by Great Britain's Jessica Fullalove in 1:01.35.
There was more in the tank too for the diminutive swimmer from the Greendale club who had a personal best of 1:01.34 set at the national open championships.
Fa'amausili, Auckland's junior world champion over 50m backstroke, showed her noted speed to zip through the turn in 30.12s, to be second in her semifinal, but faded over the closing 50m to finish in 1:03.10. She was 0.8s off a place in tomorrow's final.
"Bobbi really stepped it up tonight and improved on a couple of areas from this morning's swim," New Zealand coach Brigitte Mahon said.
"She really brought it home strongly."
In other swims, North Shore's Jacob Garrod was slightly outside his best clocking 1:05.30 in heats of the 100m breaststroke to miss out on the semifinals.
Fellow Auckland swimmer Michael Mincham was one spot outside qualifying for the B Final in the 400m freestyle. Mincham clocked 3:57.33 to be 17th fastest overall, half a second outside his personal best.
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