City swimming greats honoured

Betty Laing and Danyon Loader at Moana pool yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Betty Laing and Danyon Loader at Moana pool yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Two Dunedin swimming greats will forever look down on Dunedin's Moana Pool, reminding those who follow in their footsteps what can be achieved.

Olympic gold medal winner Danyon Loader and his coach, the late Duncan Laing, had their achievements recognised yesterday when two of the complex's pools were named in their honour.

A sign with Laing's photo and name now hangs over the learners' pool, while one of Loader hangs over the main 50m pool.

Laing's wife, Betty, thought the honour was "just marvellous" and "great for the city".

"I think it's wonderful, but I don't think he [Duncan] would have liked it much. He would have been humbled by it," she said.

The work he put in to training swimmers was never for the accolades, but rather for the enjoyment of it, she said.

Loader described the naming as a "great honour".

"I'm very much a low-key person, but to be honoured with Duncan in this way is very much appreciated."

Old friends, acquaintances and fans took the time to seek advice, catch up and collect a signature from the athlete after the unveiling ceremony yesterday.

The idea of naming the pools after the pair was first raised by pool patron Bob Smith late last year and he was pleased it had come to fruition.

"Let's cherish the thought and the memory of two people who, as a team, made a great contribution to swimming in New Zealand," he said at the ceremony.

He also reminded the gathered crowd of how Loader was the only New Zealand swimmer to win gold medals at the Olympics.

In 1992, Loader won the 200m butterfly silver medal at Barcelona, followed by the 200m and 400m freestyle gold medals at Atlanta in 1996.

Besides Loader, Laing worked with 10 other Olympic swimmers, and in 1992 and 1996 was named New Zealand's top sports coach at the Halberg Awards.



ANDREW JAMES DUNCAN LAING

Born: June 20, 1931, at Waitara, Taranaki.

Family: Wife Betty, children Duncan, Denise, Stefan, Lauren, Warwick, Graeme.

Coaching career, Otago: Professional swimming coach, Moana Pool, 1996-2006.

New Zealand: Olympics 1976, 1992, 1996; Commonwealth Games 1974, 1990, 1994, 2006; world championships 1973, 1992-94.

Awards: Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (2005), OBE (1993), Dunedin Citizen of Year (1996), life membership New Zealand Swimming Association (1996), Coaching NZ Coach of the Year (1993-96), Halberg Awards Coach of the Year (1992, 1996), Otago Coach of the Year (1992-94, 1996), Paul Harris Award, Rotary (1994).



DANYON JOSEPH LOADER

Born: April 21, 1975, in Timaru.

Record: Won Olympic gold medals in the 200m and 400m freestyle at Atlanta 1996 and silver in 200m butterfly at Barcelona 1992. Won a gold, three silver and two bronze medals at Commonwealth Games between 1990 and 1998. Four times New Zealand's swimmer of the year, twice winner of the Lonsdale Cup for outstanding Olympic achievement, three times Sportsman of the Year and, in 1996, named Halberg Awards' outstanding athlete in New Zealand for the year. In 2000 he was voted New Zealand's Athlete of the 1990s.

Honours: Awarded an ONZM medal in the New Zealand Honours in 1996.
In 2003, he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the first New Zealander to be so honoured. He was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.


- ellie.constantine@odt.co.nz

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