An American swimmer born in Australia will represent New Zealand at the Pan Pacific Championships in Japan next week – because her father is from the Bay of Plenty.

Ali Galyer, a 20-year-old junior (3rd year) student at the University of Kentucky, is a backstroke specialist who finished 8th in the final of the 200m backstroke at the USA National championships last week.

Her time in the heats of 2.09.77 ranks her 17th in the world, based on two athletes per nation. In the final she was slightly slower, recording 2.10.91.

Galyer was born in Brisbane then raised in Greenville, South Carolina but her New Zealand heritage comes through her father Roy, who was born in Matamata and then raised in Te Puke and Tauranga.

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She declared her allegiance to New Zealand Swimming after the USA Nationals and Swimming New Zealand have made a special dispensation to include her in the Pan Pacs team, despite her not competing at the recent New Zealand Open championships.

"I've spent a majority of my time in the US," she says, "but New Zealand has always been part of my life."

The Galyer family are still close to relatives living in Tauranga and Taupo.

"My introduction to New Zealand was watching the All Blacks with my Dad. He comes from a family of seven and I am particularly close to my Nana, aunties and uncles so our family get togethers have always had a huge kiwi component."

Galyer has been the USA national short course champion over the 200 yards backstroke and in a finalist in the NCAA 200 yards backstroke in the last two years.

Her long term goal is to represent New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics in two years' time.