Ali Galyer has never lived in New Zealand but is dead set on representing the country she calls home at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The 21-year-old swimmer was born in Australia and moved to the US as a three-year-old where she’s lived ever since.
The talented backstroker has citizenship to four nations, but insists it’s New Zealand she wants to represent.
“I’ve always called New Zealand home, I have an American accent but I never thought of America as home,” said Galyer.
Galyer’s New Zealand citizenship comes from her father who instilled in her a sense of New Zealand pride, teaching her about the culture and forcing her to watch All Blacks games from a young age.
“I always thought of myself as a New Zealander living in America because that’s how I was raised.
“I get to teach other people in America about the New Zealand culture, they find it super interesting and I’m super proud of that culture.”
In 2019 Galyer visited New Zealand for only the second time ever, to race in the Swimming Nationals where she hit the qualification time for Tokyo 2020.
“I’ve always had strong ties to New Zealand and so going back there last summer was one of the biggest highlights of my life, being able to have some of my family watch me compete for the first time was really exciting for me.”
The results also allowed her to wear the fern at the Swimming World Champs where she finished eighth in the final of the 200m backstroke. She also swam a personal best in the 100m backstroke heats, finishing 12th overall.
“Coming into the New Zealand Team for the World Champs was amazing. Everyone was so welcoming, it was a great experience.”
Galyer would love to move to New Zealand but is currently studying at the University of Kentucky, where she says the environment is better suited to preparing her for her Olympic dream.
“We have by far the best backstroke group in the country. Being able to train with them everyday is really helping me to be the best I can be.”
Galyer, who’s main event is the 200m backstroke, doubts she’ll make it back to New Zealand ahead of Tokyo 2020 but says she can’t wait to be back racing for Aotearoa.
“Representing New Zealand has been what I’ve wanted to do since I was little so being able to do it hopefully in 2020 it will be a dream come true.”
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games Swimming