Tokyo still in coach’s sights

Lars Humer
Lars Humer
New Zealand Olympic swimming coach Lars Humer says it is all systems go in preparations for the big event in six months.

"It is on until it is off. That is our approach in real simple terms," Humer said.

The Olympics in Tokyo are just under six months away and despite the IOC and the Japanese Government confirming last week they had every intention of holding the Games, there are still doubts over whether they will go ahead.

A report in British media last week said the Japanese Government had privately decided to can the Games but that was denied by the IOC.

Humer, of Dunedin, said as long as it was scheduled to be on then every prospective swimmer was aiming to get to the Games at their peak physical fitness.

"We have got to be on the money and do everything we can to be ready for the Games. We just have to do everything in our powers to control what we can control," he said.

"Then, long-term, hopefully we are going to have the World Champs the year after and then the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. They had an International Swimming League in Budapest last year and that is bound to be on again. So things are still on the radar."

Humer said despite New Zealand having emerged from the first wave of the pandemic in a reasonably positive position, it had still created plenty of difficulties. New Zealand was going to have a single qualifying meet but that had changed to having three qualifying meets.

One had been the Auckland championships last month, where Dunedin swimmer Erika Fairweather had qualified in the 400m freestyle.

The NZ championships in early April would also be a qualification meet along with one other meeting which had not yet been decided upon.

Despite many other swimming countries forced into lockdown, top overseas swimmers were still able to train.

"There were meets earlier this month in Europe and all the top swimmers are getting pool time. They have access to pools, some get into private pools to train. But they will find a way.

"The swimmers who turn up for the Olympics are going to be competitive. At the meet in Budapest last year, world records were set. Swimmers are going to be in good shape."

He said the difficulty for swimmers in this neck of the woods was to find quality meets to compete in. If NZ was to go into another lockdown its swimmers, and other athletes, may be unable to train while other countries were still working out.

Dunedin swimmer Caitlin Deans had been 15 seconds away from the qualifying mark in the 1500m but had knocked that down to just three seconds off the mark so was a genuine chance to reach the qualifying mark.

His Dunedin swimming group was still training hard and had spent some time recently had time out of the pool, working on their pilates.

He said top swimmers this time of year would have usually been heading to Australia but this was no longer on the horizon.

His group had just spent some time in Central Otago, working with local swimmers and spending time in a different pool away from Moana Pool.

He hoped to have a team of about 10 swimmers to go to Tokyo. Four swimmers had qualified already.


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