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Among the clutch of proud parents gathered yesterday for the official farewell for New Zealand's Olympic swimming squad was one father who knows what his son is about to experience.

Colin Herring was 19 when he swam in the 100m and 200m freestyle at the Munich Games in 1972, having returned from the United States to qualify.

Son Mark is off to Beijing as part of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay quartet.

North Shore pair Cameron Gibson and William Benson, Herring and Mt Eden teenager Orinoco Faamausili-Banse-Prince produced a national record 3m 17.45s at the Olympic trials at Waitakere on March 28.

They then had a nervy wait as other countries attempted to squeeze them out of the Games, until they were confirmed as 16th and final qualifier early this month.

The Herrings are understood to be the second parent-sibling New Zealand Olympic swimming double act, after 1952 Helsinki bronze medallist Jean Stewart and her future husband Lincoln Hurring, and their 1984 Los Angeles representative son Gary Hurring.

"I suppose really what I'm more pleased about is all these years he's been working really hard," Colin Herring said.

"He's always had the ambition to go to the Olympics, and seeing it fulfilled, I feel proud for that. I know how it feels because I had the same ambitions and to make it is great."

Herring, 23, swims out of the West Auckland Aquatics club and holds the national 100m freestyle record at 49.54s. He reckoned the last few weeks have been "horrible".

"Every day checking the world rankings on the internet, making sure Croatia hadn't beaten us," he said. In the end, New Zealand held them off by almost a second.

When the four put up their national record, they were sitting 15th, with one place up their sleeve. China nudged them to 16th a week later. That made it a very long wait, with fingers nearly permanently crossed.

"The hardest thing was to focus in training the whole way through, not knowing whether we were able to go or not. You would try to stay in a positive frame of mind to actually get out of bed in the morning," Herring said.

As for the family Olympic connection - Colin clocked 54.41s in finishing second in his 100m heat in Munich, and 2m 00.29s for fifth place in the 200m heat - Mark Herring played it down.

"There hasn't been any pressure at all," he said."He will tell me it was a defining experience in his life but it was very much a personal goal for him and that's what it has been for me. I'm just stoked it's worked out."