Through helping disabled people discover a love for the water, Rotorua's Henk Greupink appears to have found his niche.

His passion for swimming as a sport and the way he has embraced learning about para swimming in recent years have been recognised with a spot as assistant team manager with the New Zealand Para Swim team.

In all of his time coaching in Rotorua, Greupink has always embraced every swimmer, regardless of ability. In May he played a part in helping Paralympics New Zealand bring para-swimming camps to Rotorua.

Then in November, he teamed up with Swimming Waikato Hub head coach Darren Ward and St Paul's Swimming Club head coach Graham Smith to put on a free para-swimming camp in Cambridge.


He will travel to Australia with the team in February next year and said it would be another great opportunity for himself to learn more about coaching disabled athletes.

"I got a phone call from Para NZ and they said there was a high performance development team going to compete in the Victorian State Championships and we want you to be assistant team manager.

"It caught me a little bit off guard really, I think it's just my involvement and passion in the last few years. I'm really excited, it had to sink in a little bit but then I thought it is actually quite big."

His focus in Australia will be on learning more about the high performance side of the sport.

"I just want more knowledge. We go for eight days and the first couple are when the athletes get international classification, which they can only do there, so I'll get an insight into that.

"I'll also be able to watch the coaches and see how they interact with athletes at an international level. It's a lot of things I can bring back and implement here in Rotorua."

He said his involvement in para swimming had allowed him to continuously learn and develop as a swimming coach.

"You learn so much working with para swimmers and I have implemented many of them in running our Te Arawa Swimming squads and coaching.


"You have to always be learning. I read things online, I ask other coaches questions. It's like any sport, if you just do the same old, same old, you're going to get the same old results. If you just copy what people used to do, rather than living in the now, you'll never improve."

Greupink said the interest in para-swimming in New Zealand was growing, as was the amount of funding it received, thanks in part to successful para athletes such as Sophie Pascoe leading the way.

"People are really buying into it and buying into para sport in general. People like Sophie and the sprinter Liam Malone are out there winning medals and being the faces of para sport."

He said the para-swimming camp in Cambridge was "mind blowing".

"We started with an idea over coffee and that idea became a plan. Darren [Ward] and I challenged each other and we want to build a legacy. So we booked a pool, made a flyer and sent it out. We thought if we get seven or eight kids, that's a lot, but we had 15.

"They were all shy at the start, but halfway through the day they were smiling and confident. If you are a disabled athlete and you want to swim, we want to be part of your journey. We want to help you grow."