Wednesday, April 22
At the national age group swimming champs in Auckland next month Oamaru Swim Club coach Narcis Gherca will celebrate 30 years of coaching.
He first started coaching in 1985 and has attended meets all over the world.
Gherca has one medal missing from his coaching CV – “an Olympic medal”.
In 1996 he attended the Olympic Games with the Romanian swim team and the London Paralympics in 2012, when he coached paralympian swimmer Nikita Howard.
“I’ve won medals all over the world, from the world champs, to the Pan Pacifics, to the European champs – I just need an Olympic medal.”
There was hope in 2012 that Nikita Howard would win a medal, but she was too young and had a better chance at Rio, although she did win a medal at the world champs in 2013 under the guidance of Gherca.
Ghera’s focus now is to get the three Oamaru swimmers he is coaching at next month’s national age group championships in Wellington in May to win medals.
Isobel Ryan, Jaxson MacDonald-Piner and Tandia Gooch will be carrying the hopes of the province on their shoulders as they hit the pool, looking to bring home gold.
Gooch and MacDonald-Piner will compete in the U14 girls’ and boys’ categories, while Ryan will race in the U18 section of the champs.
Gherca said he had plenty of confidence in the swimmers.
“We are going there to win. If we didn’t think the swimmers were up to it then we wouldn’t send any, but the ones we are sending, we’re confident can do well for us.”
Gherca said the swimmers had been training hard.
“They’ve been doing a lot of hard work and are ready to perform at the champs.”
Eighteen-year-old Ryan is competing in the 50m and 100m in both the freestyle and backstroke; Gooch in the 50m, 100m, 200m butterfly and 200m freestyle; and MacDonald-Piner will swim in the 50m, 200m freestyle, 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly. A decision on whether or not he takes part in the 400m freestyle, which he has qualified for, is yet to be made.
Micah Hayes and Jared Brenssell could have also gone to the swimming champs but Brenssell has taken up rowing and Hayes is only 12 years old and was deemed too young to attend.
The championships take place from May 4-9.
By Brayden Lindsay