Paralympian overwhelmed by surprise party

A surprise sendoff has overwhelmed a Paralympics-bound Christchurch swimmer.

Sophie Pascoe, 19, will leave on Saturday to begin preparations for the London Paralympics, where expectations will be high after her triple gold medal-winning performance as New Zealand's youngest Paralympian in Beijing four years ago.

Friends and family today sprang a surprise pool party, complete with music, balloons and streamers, as she swam laps at the Pioneer pool.

Pascoe said she had no idea, despite spotting coach Roly Crichton's car in the car park.

It had been sold to her as a media event for her sponsor, Westpac.

''I saw the balloons come out and thought, 'Cool, I'm having a photoshoot with balloons'. Then I turned around and saw everyone,'' she said.

''It was pretty emotional to know I've got so much support backing me.''

Pascoe will have the support of her grandmother, Yvonne Goodman, in London.

She will first spend four weeks altitude-training in the United States before racing at the Paralympics opens on August 30.


Key facts and information on the London Olympics and New Zealand's medal chances:

The Press