Baby name story: Orinoco

Enya in the "Orinoco Flow" (1988) music video
Enya in the “Orinoco Flow” music video

One of this year’s Olympic competitors is a New Zealand swimmer of Samoan heritage named Orinoco Faamausili-Banse-Prince (b. 1990).

How did he get that eye-catching name?

His first name comes courtesy of a song his father rather liked, Enya’s Orinoco Flow.

Faamausili is a chiefly title bestowed on the family a couple of generations back and Banse (pronounced ban-say) is inherited from his German grandfather.

It ends with an appropriate flourish, Prince the only safe ground for tongue-tied commentators who mangle his moniker.

The title of Enya‘s 1988 song “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)” references both London’s Orinoco Studios, where the song was recorded, and the Orinoco River of South America (primarily Venezuela). The river name is derived from Guarauno words meaning “a place to paddle” (i.e., a place that is navigable).

Unsurprisingly, Orinoco Faamausili-Banse-Prince prefers to be called “Ori.”

The other three New Zealand men he’ll be swimming with in the 4 × 100 metre freestyle relay have the much more common first names Mark, Cameron, and William.

Sources: Orinoco name no pain for young NZ swimmer, Making waves in Beijing, Orinoco Flow – Wikipedia, Orinoco River – Britannica, Swimming at the 2008 Summer Olympics – Men’s 4 × 100 metre freestyle relay

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