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NAU Swimmers Train with Paralympic World Recorder Holder Pascoe

Photo (Left to Right): Coach Roly Critchon, NAU freshman Meagan Morrison, Sophie Pascoe, NAU senior Krista Maier, NAU assistant coach Jeana Fuccillo.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona senior Krista Maier and incoming freshman Meagan Morrison got a chance to train last weekend with Paralympian New Zealander Sophie Pascoe, who was training in Flagstaff at Wall Aquatic Center for the past three weeks. Pascoe holds the world record in the 100 butterfly and won three gold medals and one silver at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.

"Training here for three weeks and gaining more red blood cells really helps me prepare for my major events," said Pascoe. "It's so nice up here; the people are lovely and everyone has been so welcoming. I'm here training by myself, so to have some bonding with the NAU athletes and train with them has been great. "

Pascoe, who lost her left leg below the knee after a lawn mower accident at age two, was the youngest New Zealand competitor at the 2008 Paralympics at just 15 years old, becoming the youngest New Zealander to ever win a medal. She and her coach, Roly Critchon, trained in Font Romeu, France last summer at a similar elevation to Flagstaff, but came to northern Arizona this year before Pascoe competes in Canada.

"It's really been cool training with her," said Morrison, a Flagstaff native who will join the NAU swimming and diving team this fall. "It's been fun trying to keep up with her, as she has great upper body strength. She is really down to earth and it has been great getting to know her."

Maier noted that the unique coaching style of Critchon, in addition to witnessing the skill and style of Pascoe, were beneficial in helping her prepare for her upcoming senior season.

"The practices were a lot different for me," said Maier. "It was nice to train with someone that has been so many places and had so much success. She's really nice so it was easy to get along with her."

The Lumberjack swimming and diving team will open its 2011-12 season at the end of September.