Winning two bronze medals at this year's New Zealand Secondary School Swimming Championships capped off an outstanding year in the pool for ACG Tauranga's Liam Jury.
The swimming superstar had already enjoyed phenomenal success at the Bay of Plenty Secondary School Championships, winning the 50m butterfly and placing second overall in the entire competition. Liam then secured the bronze medal in the 100m backstroke at the North Island Secondary School Championships. So placing at the Nationals was the icing on the cake.
"To have medaled, swimming for my school, at the NZ Secondary School competition this year is definitely my proudest swimming achievement so far. They're my first-ever national-level medals," says Liam, who has been swimming competitively since the age of nine.
It's been a busy year for the talented Year 9 swimmer. He also competed for his club Evolution Aquatics at the 2021 Wellington Long Course Championships and the National Age Group Championships.
"I enjoy competitions and the sense of achievement when I reach my goals, especially if I win! I also like to feel fit, and swim training provides excellent baseline fitness and strength."
But swimming isn't the only field where Liam's expertise shines through.
"I've sat the ICAS [International Competitions and Assessments for Schools] examinations every year since Year 6 and achieved distinction in science and mathematics each year. This year I competed in the EPro8 competition and was part of the team that came third in the Year 9 and 10 Grand Final in Hamilton.
"I am proud to represent ACG Tauranga in sporting and academic competitions. It inspires me to do my very best when I know that the school is supporting and encouraging me to do well."
Liam was also the Te Awanui House Middle School Leader in 2021. Plus, he was presented with the Principal's Award for Academic Excellence (Year 9) and recognised as Middle School Sports Boy of the Year at ACG Tauranga's recent prizegiving assembly.
"That was very gratifying after such a busy year."
Since starting at ACG Tauranga in Year 6, Liam has flourished by making the most of everything on offer, from leadership opportunities to academic and sporting endeavours. And despite the challenges Covid-19 provided throughout 2021, he looks back on the year with great fondness and pride.
"I've enjoyed seeing the Te Awanui students compete to achieve not just for themselves but for our house as well, creating a strong sense of community. Year 9 camp was another highlight, especially as it was on the verge of being cancelled due to Covid, but after some quick reorganising by my tutor, Mr Wheatley, it was saved!"
Liam is clearly delighted to be a valued member of the ACG Tauranga family.
"I like being part of a class of around 20 students – it's big enough to have input and interactions with a variety of students but small enough that you can receive personal help from your teacher if you need it. I like it that the subjects we take are well structured, and you're challenged to improve yourself, and I've always had great teachers who have supported and encouraged me."
And what does this all-around high achiever have up his sleeve for 2022 and beyond?
"In the coming year, I'd like to compete well for my school in our regional competition and hopefully beyond. I'd also like to qualify and compete at the National Age Group Championships again. I hope to continue swimming competitively throughout my schooling years and potentially after that. But training competitively and maintaining your academic path requires a lot of work and balancing of time, so I will need to keep reassessing where I am at and my future goals."