Ali Galyer

 I see the selection of Ali Galyer to represent New Zealand at the Pan Pacific Games has generated some heat. But before we get carried away let’s consider the facts of how she was selected. These were helpfully provided in a Gary Francis email. This is what he said:

Hi CoachesOver the next few hours news will filter through to you of an additional, late selection to our Pan Pacs Team for this year.

Her name is Ali Galyer, and she is a US based swimmer, who just competed at the US trials in Irvine. I became aware of her on July 9th and after an initial investigation found that she has live (sic) in the USA since 2001 and that she is at the University of Kentucky. Her PB in the 200m Backstroke was 2:09.93, achieved the day before at the Pro Series event in Columbus Ohio. At the time it was the 18th fastest time in the world (2 per nation).

After some following up it became clear that:

  1. She has a NZ passport and is eligible for NZ
  2. She was at the time the 5th ranked 200m backstroker in USA and could be selected for a Senior US team at the upcoming trials.

 I made a formal approach to secure her commitment to New Zealand but felt that the pressure that she would be under to accept selection for the USA if she should make the top 5 at the US trials would be too great for her to ignore. So I asked her to apply to the New Zealand selectors for selection to the New Zealand team under exceptional circumstances. The selectors accepted her application and I offered her a place in the New Zealand team, by so doing securing her commitment to New Zealand.

 At the US trials she improved her PB and world ranking (to 17) with a heat swim of 2:09.77 (New Zealand Pan Pacs qualifying was at 2:11.53), qualifying 6th fastest. She could not repeat this in the final finishing 8th in 2:10.91. But given all the unrest of the previous two weeks I feel this was still strong vindication that New Zealand needed to select her.

 Her team mates have all been informed of her selection – she will be flying out directly from California to join the team in Kobe City tomorrow.

This is a very unique situation, unlikely to be repeated. It will be great to have Ali as part of our Senior team as we move towards Tokyo and beyond. She is fully committed to New Zealand and understands that from this point on she will have to go through the same qualifying and selection process as her team mates. – I hope this sheds light on the situation.




There are of course critics in New Zealand who question her selection. Here is a summarized version of an email I received today.

Corey Main came over to NZ to try and qualify for the Pan Pacific Champs. He wasn’t able to do so as he didn’t meet the times, was disqualified from one of his events and ended up scratching the other – and got beaten by his brother in the third.As a result, Swimming NZ had only three pool swimmers going to Pan Pacs.

So, Swimming NZ went around the Aussie and US teams to see if any swimmers had Kiwi bloodlines to see if they could find an addition to the team and get them a dispensation.

They found one who was not fast enough to get into the US team or the Australian team.

Her name is Ali Gayler [sic]. She swam 2:09.77s in the heats of the 200m backstroke at last week’s USA National Championships and that is under the Pan Pacs qualifying time.

If it was good enough to add Gayler [sic] to the team why wasn’t it good enough to have a dispensation for Corey Main and have him swim at US Panpac trials as well instead of having him fly over to NZ Opens and compete somewhat jetlagged?

There are occasions when New Zealanders, like the author of this email, fail to understand modern international sport. I don’t see anything wrong with the selection. In fact I’m delighted and wish Ali Galyer all the best. It would be extremely hypocritical of me to do anything less. I have a wife who ran for New Zealand and changed to run for the United Kingdom. I also have a daughter who swam for New Zealand and on one occasion changed to swim for the US Virgin Islands in the Central American Championships. In fact she still holds the 200 breaststroke championship record.

Ali Gayler meets all the international criteria for New Zealand selection and she is certainly fast enough. Her Resume is stunningly good; three times State champion, twice South Carolina High School Swimmer of the Year, 2016 USA Olympic Trial qualifier in 100 and 200 backstroke, sixth in the 200-yard backstroke at the NCAA Championships, twice First Team All-American and a mile faster than the SNZ selection time; she is probably the best swimmer to represent New Zealand since Lauren Boyle. The fact the SNZ had to call on one of its infamous “special circumstance” clauses to get around the rules is nothing new. They did it for Lewis Clareburt. Why should Ali Galyer be any different?

Her selection is the way of international sport. A runner born in Kenya represents Bahrain. A swimmer born in South Africa represents Germany. Most famously of all a runner, called Mo Farah, was born in Somalia and runs for the United Kingdom. I am delighted SNZ is looking further afield than the fence around Antares Place. Wikipedia tells me there are 750,000 New Zealand-born citizens living overseas. I’m pretty certain there are a few of them who have children who can swim or run well. If they are good enough they should be welcomed into any national team. On this occasion well done SNZ, well done Gary Francis and especially well done Ali Galyer.

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