Coach has confidence in Wiegersma's future in pool
Southland swimming coach Jeremy Duncan believes Natalie Wiegersma has the willpower and ability to bounce back from her disappointing showing at the London Olympics.
The Waverley Swimming Club member was given a harsh introduction to Olympic competition, producing the 26th-fastest heat time in the 200m individual medley, and ending up 19th overall in the 400m individual medley.
Wiegersma was well off her personal best times in both events, and was unable to qualify for the finals.
Duncan, who travelled to London as a member of the New Zealand coaching staff, said Wiegersma was always going to be up against it at the Olympics after a difficult 2011, when she was hampered by a shoulder injury.
London was also seen as more of a learning experience for the Southlander, as she hopefully builds for the Rio de Janeiro Games in four years.
"She's pretty gutted with how she swam. I'm not one to give out excuses, but she did spend a lot of last year injured," Duncan said.
Wiegersma had been aiming to improve on her world ranking and achieve personal bests in London, which would have placed her in contention for the finals.
Duncan said her preparation for the Games had been severely disrupted by her injury, and she had done well to recover from that setback and get to London.
"It wasn't a matter of anything going wrong. Because she was injured for eight months, she didn't get the regular racing to build her self-belief through that."
Wiegersma has indicated in the past that she was keen to carry on for the 2016 Olympics, and Duncan said he would sit down with his young charge when she was ready and talk over her long-term plans.
The 22-year-old enjoyed some downtime after the Olympics, travelling to the Netherlands to catch up with relatives, and has only recently returned to Invercargill.
"She's re-evaluating what she wants to do and getting her feet back on the ground," he said. "We'll wait and see. I know she has mentioned she wants to go through to 2016, but we'll sit down and have a chat."
Wiegersma competed in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, finishing fourth in the 200m individual medley, setting a national record.
She will no doubt be targeting medals at the next Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in two years, and Duncan said there was not much they needed to change technically.
"We just need to develop that self- belief through racing consistently."
Wiegersma is just the third Southland swimmer to have attended an Olympic Games. She gained a spot in the New Zealand team by training fulltime in Invercargill, and Duncan hoped other young swimmers in the region would be encouraged by her achievements.
"I'd like a lot of kids to follow in her footsteps and dream higher than that.
"We've got a really good age-group team coming through. There's a whole lot of 8- to 11-year-olds. They're our 2020 (Olympic) kids."
Wiegersma could not be reached for comment yesterday.
- © Fairfax NZ News