Humer focusing on positives from postponement

The Olympic Games were due to start this week but have been postponed until July 23 next year. In a short series, the Otago Daily Times chats to  southern competitors and coaches about what the postponement means and the plans for the next 365 days. First up,  coach Lars Humer talks to Jeff Cheshire.

Lars Humer is looking at the positives in the Olympic postponement.

There are plenty of positives to look at, too.

The Dunedin swim coach, who is also New Zealand’s head coach for the Games, admitted there was a little disappointment at first.

But he has moved on from that.

His local swimmers have been back in the water for nine weeks and have raced at a meeting.

Three of those — Erika Fairweather, Caitlin Deans and new university student Ciara Smith — are hopefuls to be in Tokyo in a year’s time.

All are young.

At Moana Pool yesterday are (from left) coach Lars Humer, Caitlin Deans, Erica Fairweather, Ciara...
At Moana Pool yesterday are (from left) coach Lars Humer, Caitlin Deans, Erica Fairweather, Ciara Smith and coach Kurt Crosland. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON

Another year will leave them older, more experienced and theoretically better.

In addition, they had not been working towards an end point, as older athletes may have been.

Had Covid-19 not happened, the focus would have turned to the world championships next year.

In that sense, not much has changed looking ahead — they are just preparing for a different meeting.

It is not a bad place in which to to be.

On top of that, they have a jump start on competitors in many other countries who are not able to train yet.

Humer will become more involved with the country’s other swimmers once the squad is selected next year.

Day to day, there are different feelings as to the chances of the Olympics happening.

But there had been good indications from the IOC last week and he feels they are in a good place.

While lockdown had been a disruption, it had been a good break as a one-off.

As there were no major competitions coming up, it gave the swimmers a chance to rebuild without the pressure to be in race shape.

It had also given them a chance to reassess how things were done, notably how they trained.

That could be particularly important in a smaller country such as New Zealand, where reaching the top was not such a long road as it was in more populous countries.

"The better we know how to train the better we compete and the more chance we have to win going forward," Humer said.

"This whole Covid-19 thing has given us the chance to take a breath and really work on our ability to train better."

Speed was a major focus.

That did not replace fitness and technical skills or the ability to maintain technique under pressure.

But swimming fast was something that was hard to pick up later on.

"People will say, I suppose, you put in a real big aerobic block, slow get-fit-type swimming.

"While we’ve done some of that work, we’ve done a lot of fast swimming already.

"The get-fit-type block, that’s a traditional way of training.

"While you get fit, you don’t swim fast and it’s harder to transfer that fitness into swimming later."

The plan going forward was a loose one — so much so Humer was drawing up two plans.

One contained meetings he knew would be available to his swimmers and the squad.

The other consisted of where the squad could go if the world became easier to travel around over the next year.

He had hoped to fly to Australia and compete at the Victoria Championships.

Both Deans and Fairweather swam exceptionally well at those in February this year.

But that might be unlikely given the Covid-19 situation there.

Either way, it was a case of finding ways to make it work as best they could.


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