Paris Games: Special for Dunedin trio to be going together

A Dunedin trio are diving all in to represent the city at the Olympics. Kayla Hodge reports.

Erika Fairweather can hardly believe her luck.

The Dunedin world champion has booked her ticket to her second Olympics and this time she gets to have some of her best mates in tow.

Fairweather, 20, was unveiled as one of the nine swimmers to represent New Zealand at Moana Pool yesterday alongside Dunedin swimmers Kane Follows and Caitlin Deans, and Lewis Clareburt, Cameron Gray, Hazel Ouwehand, Eve Thomas, Taiko Torepe-Ormsby and Laticia Leigh Transom.

"I’m so stoked," Fairweather said.

"It’s such a cool team to be a part of. I’ve got some really good mates on this team."

Heading to her second Olympics, she is excited about the prospect of a proper athletes’ village, crowds and her family and friends being able to attend, after Tokyo was marred by Covid.

"It’s going to be really different to the last one.

"I love the energy that the crowds bring and that’s a really exciting point for me."

While she always earmarked Paris, Tokyo was a helpful surprise, as were big wins at the world championships.

"I’m in a completely different place to where I was last Olympics.

"Obviously, I was a bit of a rookie and I kind of flew under the radar.

"Now I guess my position on the world stage is a little bit different. It’s a bit scary, but it’s also really cool — I’ve just got to play on that a little bit."

Deans and Fairweather had been training partners since they were young and to be at the Olympics together was amazing, she said.

"We’ve been able to push each other and really encourage each other through different experiences.

"We just have so much fun doing what we’re doing and I think that all reflects in our racing."

Deans, 24, counted herself lucky to have Fairweather and Follows at her first Olympics.

Finding out the announcement was being held in Dunedin almost brought Deans and Fairweather to tears and doing it all together made it special.

"It’s so, so special having all three of us doing it together," Deans said.

"We swim up and down that black line every day, day in day out, [for] hours, so it’s really cool to have the three of us going together."

Having her family there to see her "childhood dream come true" was also touching.

"I honestly couldn’t have done it without them.

Olympic swimming team members (from left) Kane Follows, Caitlin Deans, Cameron Gray, Hazel...
Olympic swimming team members (from left) Kane Follows, Caitlin Deans, Cameron Gray, Hazel Ouwehand, Lewis Clareburt and Erika Fairweather were at Moana Pool yesterday when their selection for the Paris Olympics was announced. Also in the team are Eve Thomas, Taiko Torepe-Ormsby and Laticia Leigh Transom. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
"It’s just as much as a celebration for them as it is to me."

She has high hopes for her 4x200m freestyle relay team, which finished fifth at the world championships and broke the New Zealand record twice.

"I think in Doha we really proved ourselves and put us in a really exciting position to be competitive at these Olympics and really see where we can go with it."

Racing aside, Deans was excited to be part of the Olympic village and see all the different athletes together.

"I’m probably most looking forward to having all the sports together.

"I’ve never experienced that."

For Follows, his selection was a "pinch yourself moment".

"I definitely haven’t taken anything for granted in this process and I probably won’t in the next few months leading into the games," Follows said.

"I’m just going to soak it all in. You just never know if you’re going to make another one, or not, so you’ve just got to treat it like it’s your last and enjoy it."

Follows, 27, moved to Dunedin about 18 months ago to train under Dunedin coach Lars Humer — who has also been selected as an Olympic coach — and was excited to represent him with Fairweather and Deans.

"Obviously, first Olympics is special in itself, but when you have two of your training partners that you’ve kind of been in the trenches with through all of the hard times and the good times, it’s pretty awesome to be next to them.

But nothing will compare to hearing his name called.

"I’m just excited to step up on the block representing New Zealand, representing my family and myself."

New Zealand swim team

Deans and Follows (below) go through their paces at Moana Pool yesterday. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Deans and Follows (below) go through their paces at Moana Pool yesterday. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

For the Paris Olympics

Erika Fairweather


Women’s 200m, 400m, 800m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay

Kane Follows


Men’s 200m backstroke

Caitlin Deans


Women’s 4x200m freestyle relay

Lewis Clareburt

Club 37

Men’s 200m and 400m individual medley, 200m butterfly

Eve Thomas


Women’s 400m, 800m, 1500m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay

Hazel Ouwehand


Women’s 100m butterfly

Taiko Torepe-Ormsby

Men’s 50m freestyle

Cameron Gray


Men’s 100m freestyle

Laticia Leigh Transom

Club 47

Women’s 4x200m relay