Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Greerton swimmer Lochlainn O'Connor makes NZ team

Add a comment
TOP CLASS: Lochlainn O'Connor, 15, will represent New Zealand at the Australian State Team Age Short Course Championships in Canberra. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
TOP CLASS: Lochlainn O'Connor, 15, will represent New Zealand at the Australian State Team Age Short Course Championships in Canberra. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

Lochlainn O'Connor is preparing for the biggest event of his young swimming career.

The Aquinas College Year 11 student, who competed for Greerton Swimming Club, would represent New Zealand for the first time at the Australian State Team Age Short Course Championships later this month in Canberra.

Selection capped off a stellar year for the 15-year-old butterfly specialist who was compared to Bay of Plenty Olympians Kane Radford and Moss Burmester.

"The main qualifying meet for me was the Central New Zealand champs and the times there were assessed by the New Zealand Swimming people who picked the team," O'Connor said.

"I was also selected into a national talent ID squad and from that we went to the Auckland Winter champs. A lot of people from that squad have made it into the Australian state team which is cool so I know a few people going."

Surf lifesaving is another sport O'Connor has excelled at.

He was named top under-16 male at the 2016 BOP Coromandel Surf Lifesaving Awards of Excellence after a dominant performance including two national records at the pool champs nationals held earlier this year.

Ironically, O'Connor's best swimming performance at April's New Zealand Age Group Championships in Wellington came after less than ideal preparation at the Australian Surf Lifesaving nationals.

"My finals over there were a bit iffy. I didn't walk away with quite the results I wanted but then got stuck in at the pool in Wellington, stuck hard at the racing and managed to walk away with a few necklaces," O'Connor said.

Those "necklaces" were the four silver and two gold medals he won, plus he knocked off yet another Bay of Plenty record in the 200m butterfly, previously held by Rotorua's Rio Olympian Radford.

O'Connor got huge motivation from being compared to him at the same age.

"That just tells me if he managed to become an Olympian from where he was, he still had a long way to go to get there.

"I know I am going to have to take a long time to be able to get to places like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

"I am looking eight years ahead in the future. I am thinking if I can stay in front of him then I am looking at potentially going to the Olympics. That definitely drives me."

Former Greerton Swim Club member and double Olympian Burmester was another swimmer O'Connor looks up to, particularly in his favoured 200m butterfly.

"You just don't get as many people doing it (200m) and it really shows who is a man and who is a mouse," O'Connor said.

"It is a grueling event but sometimes you love them."

He said Greerton coach Tai Daniela had been a major influence on his career so far.

"He has done an excellent job over the years with me. It is a long time that I have been training with him and making sure I can be the best athlete I can.

"I am also lucky to have the Greerton pool renovated recently by the Tauranga City Council.

"It has been a real nice pool to train in over the last few months."

- Bay of Plenty Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 28 Sep 2016 10:03:45 Processing Time: 542ms