Gilbert rules the record books
30 Mar 2017
Anyone looking through Taranaki's swimming records will notice a name repeated over and over again.
That name is Stratford 15-year-old Joshua Gilbert who holds a staggering 54 records - 24 short course and 30 long course.
Add in the fact that he also holds seven national records, and has broken 11, and it's easy to see why he has been touted as a serious athlete of the future.
It's been just six years since the Stratford High School student started to take the sport reasonably seriously. It was a few years after his mother Caroline set the strokes in motion, so to speak, and got him into the pool to learn how to swim 1500m competently.
"To her it was always important that we could swim at least that distance," he explained.
"After that I just kept swimming. When I was nine I couldn't quite manage that distance still so she kept me in a competitive squad until I could.
"From there I started competition and that's when it all started."
It started alright, to the point that Gilbert is now ranked No 1 for his age in New Zealand at breaststroke and individual medley.
That ranking comes off the back of some staggering success in the pool that saw him win numerous gold medals at the New Zealand Long Course Age Group Championships last year.
After winning the 200m and 400m medley, Gilbert went on to set New Zealand records in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke.
He was even more dominant at the short course championships where he added five golds and a silver to his impressive haul for the year.
However, it has not just been in New Zealand where he has excelled after he crossed the Tasman with the national age-group squad to win medals at the Australian championships.
Asked to pinpoint why he has been so successful, Gilbert answered straight - it simply came down to a lot of hard work and a lot of long hours.
Under the guidance of coach Aimee Woodhead, Gilbert follows a programme that has him at the TSB Pool Complex up to 10 times a week, as he refines his strokes while building up the endurance levels needed to be competitive across Australasia.
"Most of my training is at Stratford except when we are selected for high performance camps in Auckland. There are a lot of early mornings.
"Trainings are usually two hours in the morning and from 4 to 5.30 in the afternoons. It's all about getting that mileage into you so when it comes to competition, you're not dying half way through."
A back injury several weeks ago impacted on his build-up to last weekend's New Zealand Age-Group Championships in Wellington but he still managed to come away with a decent haul of medals including three golds and two silvers.
"I don't want to use it as an excuse but I did feel it [back] during competition. I was still happy with my results."
While happy, Gilbert intends to take a break for a few months to freshen up, re-set his goals and head back under water.
"I feel like I need one, I haven't had a decent break since I've been swimming. When I come back I'll be training for the short course nationals which are in October in Auckland."