Fairweather gets mass support from schoolmates

Dunedin swimmer Erika Fairweather has been left in no doubt that her school backs her.

Kavanagh College pupils flooded into the school’s gymnasium yesterday to watch live coverage on a big screen of her in the Tokyo Olympics 400m freestyle final.

They also had a loud message for the school’s head girl, to be sent on the eve of last night’s 200m freestyle heats — "Go Erika", they cried in unison.

Fairweather (17) finished eighth in yesterday afternoon’s final, unable to reproduce her electric performance from her Sunday night heat, when she set a national record and shaved more than 4 seconds from her personal best.

Kavanagh College deputy head boy Tobias Devereux (17) said the school was proud of Fairweather’s achievement in finishing eighth in the world.

"It’s hard to fathom what it means," he said.

Tobias tried unsuccessfully to get some sleep before Fairweather’s Olympics debut.

"She blew our expectations out of the water, which was amazing."

 Watching a big screen nervously as fellow Kavanagh College pupil Erika Fairweather competes in...
Watching a big screen nervously as fellow Kavanagh College pupil Erika Fairweather competes in an Olympics swimming final are (front, from left) Lexie Williams (17), Annabelle Ring (17), Geena Mouat (17) and Enrique Garcia-Martin (18). Photo: Peter McIntosh

A cheer rang out in the gym yesterday when former national swim coach Mark Bone mentioned the Kavanagh head girl in the lead-up coverage and again when Fairweather strode to the starting blocks of lane 6.

Pupils bit their nails and looked on pensively as the race progressed and some afterwards described unexpected reactions to watching one of their own among the best in her sport, such as tearing up and shaking.

"I was so nervous, even before the race," friend Geena Mouat said.

Head boy Enrique Garcia-Martin said Fairweather was a hard worker who deserved her success.

Deputy head girl Annabelle Ring said year 13 was on a group chat on Sunday night and there was widespread support.

Principal Kate Nicholson said Fairweather was a very good manager of her activities.

Getting pupils together to support their schoolmate yesterday was a wonderful way to start the term, she said.

"I hope she has time to reflect on how well she’s done."

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

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