Galloway makes Olympian grandmother proud

Seventy years after her grandmother swam in the London 1948 Olympic Games, New Zealand swimmer Gina Galloway has taken up the torch to represent her country at Buenos Aires 2018 - and in the same discipline.

Picture by IOC/Getty Images

“I think she’s pretty proud,” said Galloway, 17, of her grandmother, who turns 93 at the end of October. ‘Nana Ngaire’ is New Zealand’s oldest living Olympian.

Ngaire Lane was the only woman on New Zealand’s seven-member team in 1948. After a six-week boat trip to London, she competed in the 100m backstroke, finishing 11th overall.

As it happens, backstroke is also Galloway’s speciality. She swam in five events in the Natatorium: 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly and mixed 4x100m freestyle relay.

“I remember listening to all her stories from all her travels, the friends she’s made, the experiences she’s gained from swimming,” Galloway said of her grandmother. “It came naturally, my love of swimming, and the shared bond we have over swimming and the love of the sport. It’s really motivated me to continue to swim to this day.”

Ngaire told New Zealand media in August exactly why she thinks her granddaughter has excelled in the pool.

“Gina’s lucky: she’s got killer instinct and is a good competitor - and focused. “(There is) so much work behind (Gina’s swimming). In our day we thought we were training hard, but it’s incredible how little we did compared to now.”

Buenos Aires 2018

But Ngaire also knows about hard graft. To help her continue her training on the six-week voyage in 1948, the ship’s carpenter crafted a two-metre long oblong box, lined it with canvas and filled it with sea water each day so Ngaire could practise her kick. He also built a bench with weights and pulleys that allowed her to work on her stroke. 

The 92-year-old has been employing more modern technology to follow her granddaughter’s progress at the YOG - her tablet computer.


“She’s able to live stream and watch the races I’m doing,” Galloway said. “Dad always sends her the link so she can watch and it’s cool knowing she’s watching from (home).”