SWIMMING: Reluctant Bruin's pool life goes gold


Build it, they always say, and they'll come.
When Carol and Dennis Maunder did, that didn't happen.
If anything, their children, Emily and Bruin, did exactly the opposite - they ran a country mile from the prodigious pool in the backyard of their Taradale home.
With a sizeable investment for family relaxation in mind over summer, the Maunders weren't about to give up that easily.
Carol, the manager of ASB bank in Hastings, scouted around and came up with husband-and-wife swim coach coach Mike and Robynne Lee, of Napier, as the answer to their problems.
"The first time I took Bruin to Roby - all four of them were boys - he was crying and yelling as soon as she put him and the others into the water," Carol tells SportToday of her then 4-year-old son and his sister, who went through a similar cycle.
Just like Emily, 14, Carol watched Bruin for about two years as he progressed to a learner's program and then to the Napier Aquahawks development team before finding a perch in the Lees' elite stable.
On February 20-21, 10-year-old Bruin returned from the 2010 NZ Junior Swimming Championship in Wellington with eight medals - seven gold and a silver.
Remarkably, the Taradale School year 6 pupil made the finals for 12 events at the Kilbirnie Pools, but could only compete in nine. He settled for a fourth place in the 50m breast stroke.
"He'll tell you he doesn't care much about competing and he doesn't get upset or anything, but he doesn't like losing [in the silver medal race]," Carol said of the youngster, whose main events are freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke and individual medley.
His coach and the Lees' daughter, Anna Lee, says Bruin, who holds two Bay age-group records, specialises in all strokes in both sprint and long-distance races.
"He'll do two more years in the junior nationals, so he should win more medals," Lee says of Bruin, who practices five times a week.
"He learned to swim with my mum," she says of Robynne, who is a self-employed coach, operating from an 8m x 3m heated and covered pool in the backyard of their Onekawa home, a stone's throw from the Onekawa Aquatic Centre pools, where Aquahawks is based.
Husband Mike Lee, who collected his second consecutive national provincial coach of the year award in June last year, coaches world short-and-long course record-holder Callum Joll, of Hawke's Bay, as well as daughter Anna Lee's stable of youngsters.
Neither of the Maunder parents are pedigree swimmers, although Dennis did represent his country in rollerskating twice at the world championships in South America and New Zealand.
The itinerant drum teacher reveals daughter Emily intends to go to Olympics after finishing fourth in her age-group at the nationals last year.
What about Bruin?
He thinks long and hard before slowly acknowledging that is a possibility, although it's understandable someone so young cannot see so far into the future.
"When I was competing, adidas offered us tracksuits, but they [New Zealand body] didn't let us take them.

Look at sponsorship now ... ," says Dennis of the avenues for Bruin and Emily.
"My parents helped me when I was rollerskating, so I suppose we'll help our children as far as they want to go with it."
Dennis laughs at the irony that their children still won't go into the pool at home unless it's 23 degrees.
Explains Bruin, who prefers the heated pools at the Onekawa centre: "I did go in once when it was about 16 degrees, but I got out quickly."
While training is hard initially, Bruin tends to find each step up a breeze after sticking religiously to his routine.
Clubmate Tamara Lambert, 12, of Tamatea Intermediate School, won gold in the 100m back stroke event, a silver in 50m back stroke and a bronze as part of the Hawke's Bay Poverty Bay relay team.
* Heretaunga Sundevil Naomi Smit, 13, won three titles at the national championships in Christchurch last week.
She won the 100m backstroke title with a time of 1 minute 8.7 seconds, the 50m backstroke in 31.55s and the 50m freestyle in 28.16s. Smit also won bronze in the 200m backstroke in 2m 28.28s
The Havelock North High Year 9 pupil has won five national titles in two years. Last year she won the 12 years' 50m freestyle and backstroke titles.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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