Sports 22 Jan 2024

CIS alumni Lanihei Connolly wins gold and silver at the Pacific Games

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications

We recently welcomed alumni Lanihei Connolly back to Lakeside for a swim meet with the Huskies. From racing among her peers at CIS to representing her country at major tournaments, it was great to have Lanihei back in the pool where her passion for swimming began all those years ago.

Originally from the Cook Islands, Lanihei started her swim journey along the familiar blue lanes of our CIS swimming pool. While she took up swimming as a fun recreational sport to enjoy with friends (and also as a way to cool off in the Singapore weather!) Lanihei soon realised her aptitude for the sport once she started competing as part of the Huskies swim team and decided to pursue her passion professionally.

“I initially began swimming for fun, but as I began racing for the school I knew I wanted to swim competitively.” she shared.

Lanihei, bottom centre, 2016

During her tenure at CIS, Lanihei participated and placed in numerous competitions including the Singapore National Age Group swimming competition and overseas swim meets in Taiwan, Australia and Cambodia.

Today, Lanihei is making waves on the international stage. Having represented Cook Islands at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Lanihei went on to prove her aquatic prowess by winning gold and silver respectively in the 50 and 100 metres breaststroke at the 2023 Pacific Games. She now has her sights set on racing at the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Closer to home, Lanihei’s name remains on the CIS swim team scoreboard in 50 and 100 metres freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke– the latter of which has become her stroke specialisation.

“Coming back to CIS after all these years was really exciting. It’s crazy to see how much the school has changed – especially the addition of a 25 metre swimming pool!”

This short course pool, housed in our Kindergarten wing, will allow our youngest swimmers to discover their talents in the water, and build the discipline, resilience, hard and soft skills necessary to excel just as Lanihei has.

Although it’s been over half a decade since she was a student at CIS, Lanihei credits her time with the Huskies as laying the foundation for her swim career, and gave a special shout out to the olympic sized pool she spent many of her husky days swimming in, and the great friends made along the way that she still keeps in touch with.

“I would say CIS helped lay the foundation for my swimming career. CIS has great facilities, especially the 50 metre pool, which helped me progress quickly early on in my swimming journey. I always remember looking forward to competitions as everyone always supported one another.

It is undeniable that Lanihei is one of Oceania’s rising swim stars, but her success can be measured in more ways than just medals. When asked how competitive swimming has helped her grow as a person, she is quick to reflect:

“Swimming competitively has really helped me gain emotional maturity. It has taught me a lot about myself and made me a very disciplined individual. I have also gained resilience through enduring hard training sessions as well as bouncing back after a race hasn’t gone my way!”

And what advice does she have for CIS’s aspiring swimmers looking to follow in her footsteps?

“I would tell them to really enjoy the sport, work hard and learn to find joy in training. Remember that progress isn’t linear. At some competitions you’ll drop time in a race and at others you may add time. It’s all just part of the journey. You definitely learn more in your ‘bad’ races than in your good ones!”

Lanihei, 2016

We at CIS are immensely proud of Lanihei and her swim journey. We wish her every success in her future competitive endeavours and continue to cheer her on!