Dunedin leading the swim charge to the Olympics

New Zealand swimming is on the rise and Dunedin is leading the way.

A nine strong New Zealand swim team has been named for the Paris Olympics.

World champions Erika Fairweather and Lewis Clareburt head the squad, which is one of the largest to be selected for a pinnacle event.

A third of the team come from one club in Dunedin.

Tuesday’s team announcement was held at Moana Pool in Dunedin, the home of two-time Olympic swimming champion Danyon Loader.

Fairweather, Caitlin Deans and Kane Follows are a part of the Neptune club and all train there under the guidance of coach Lars Hummer.

Fairweather, 20, has no doubts there is something special about Dunedin and Moana pool.

“It’s the breeding grounds of Olympians,” Fairweather told RNZ.

“We have Danyon Loader who is one of our greatest Olympians, so yeah, just continuing that legacy I think.”

Dunedin swimmer Erika Fairweather in front of a sign of another Olympian from the region Danyon Loader.

Fairweather and 24-year-old Deans have been training buddies since they were kids.

Deans was delighted to be going to her first Olympics alongside her Dunedin mate.

“We’ve been training partner since before I can remember, we both learnt to swim here, so having the announcement today at Moana pool was really special for us.

“Having the three of us that train together, day in and day out, getting selected in the team together is just so special.”

The third member of the Dunedin trio was Kane Follows.

Follows qualified for the Olympics just a few weeks ago at the National Championships and the Paris Olympics will be the first time he has represented New Zealand at senior level.

He was born and raised in Auckland and studied and swam for the University of Hawaii. Moving to Dunedin 18 months ago was a bit of a shock.

“I’m definitely more of a tropical kind of guy, I love swimming outdoors and love the sun so coming down here (Dunedin), I actually saw snow for the first time last year, was a shock to the system.

“I’m still getting use to it, but during the race (200m backstroke at the nationals) I was thinking can I hack another winter down in Dunedin or a summer in Paris seemed a bit better so that helped me get over the line.”

Swimming New Zealand Olympic programme lead Gary Francis praised Dunedin coach Lars Hummer for what he has achieved with both young swimmers and internationals.

“This programme now is a world class programme,” Francis told RNZ.

“There aren’t many clubs or swim programmes around the world, even those directly funded by the national governing body or a government that puts three athletes on the same Olympic team, it’s a magnificent achievement.”

Fairweather admitted she has a special bond with coach Hummer.

“Lars is great, I’ve had him most of my senior career, we grown and developed that coach-athlete relationship and basically we can read each others minds.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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