Forget the big appearance fee if you want to invite Commonwealth Games gold medallist Moss Burmester to town. All it took to get the Hastings-born swimmer, who won gold in the 200m fly at the Melbourne Games earlier this year, to Hawke's Bay this weekend was the offer of an X-Box. "I love playing X-Box games. They help me to relax. And Jon (Winter) who was my roommate at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester obviously remembered that," he said. Hawke's Bay-based coach Winter helped entice Burmester to town with the latest X-Box machine. "Once I open this new one I'll probably spend up to 10 hours a weekend playing it. It's not hard on the body so it doesn't hinder my training programmes," said Burmester, who left the Bay with his family when he was four months old and moved to Tauranga, where he was based until earlier this year, before moving to Auckland. He said it was great to return to his place of birth and catch up with Winter at the same time. "Jon was at the end of his international career when I was starting mine. He taught me a lot about life in a Games Village." Burmester, who turns 25 on Monday, fellow New Zealand rep Dean Kent and retired Kiwi swimmer Toni Jeffs, are in the Bay as part of a new Swimming New Zealand initiative where every region organises Regional Assessment Days as part of a major swimmer and coach education programme. "We were always allocated Toni for this session. Through a few contacts I was able to secure Moss and Dean as well and I must thank Napier Computer Systems for sponsoring the X-Box for Moss," said Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay Swimming president Keith Bone. The international trio took part in a training and publicity session at Flaxmere Waterworld last night.
This morning they headed to Wairoa for an intense eight-hour day of coaching with 37 of Hawke's Bay-Poverty Bay's elite 10 to 14-year-olds. The day will include four pool sessions and four classroom and gym sessions. This is the first of three such weekends during the next few months. Bone pointed out the weekend cost $16,000. Needless to say it would have cost a lot more had Burmester not been enticed with the offer of the X-Box.