Tuesday, 5 May 2020

NZMS Swimmer of The Year - Kyla Steenhart

Kyla Steenhart started swimming at a young age although she wasn’t initially a natural – her first attempt at a tumble turn almost made her coach fall in the pool laughing and while the rest of her group moved up to the ‘big pool’ she had to stay in the little pool practicing her breaststroke kick. 

Thankfully things fell into place and she swam at national level throughout her teens, achieving a number of national titles and representing New Zealand in the Tri-Series meet at the age of 16. Living in Nelson, Kyla was coached via correspondence, with her Christchurch-based coach faxing her a week’s worth of training sessions on a Sunday night which she then swam on her own (with her long-suffering parents helping remove the pool covers at the local pool in the morning and staying to watch that she didn’t drown before the lifeguard arrived). She moved to Christchurch for university with the intention of stepping up her swimming and training with a real life coach and squad. However, the student lifestyle held more allure than 4:45am starts, so at the age of 18, she hung up her goggles. 

Her love of swimming never went away, though, and while living in Japan she was invited to a Masters swim meet. Since then, she has swum with Masters clubs in Wellington (Harbour Capital
Masters), London (Camden Swiss Cottage and Cally Masters) and Auckland (Roskill Masters – her current club). She’s swum at three World Masters Swimming Champs, winning a number of medals and loves masters swimming as it can be as competitive as one wants and it’s a fantastic way of meeting people – many of her best friends around the world are people she met through swimming. 

Kyla lives in Auckland with her partner and faithful swimming supporter, Alex, and their delinquent Welsh terrier, Walter and works for a UK-based market research consultancy, managing projects with NZ education institutions and universities around the world. When she’s not in the pool (which is a lot of time as she’s something of a ‘sporadic’ trainer), her passions are travelling, walking, pottering in the garden and a glass of wine or two with friends. She got her PADI certification last year and is looking forward to putting that to good use. 
Inspired by masters swimmers in the ‘more advanced age groups’ Kyla hopes to be like them still swimming and competing into her eighties and beyond. In the shorter term she lives in hope of just once more getting a lifetime PB.

Congratulations Kyla and we wish you all the best! 


  1. So proud of you Kyla. Very well deserved!
    Len and Christine

  2. You are an inspiration to all. Love and best wishes.
    Lyndy Monopoli

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