Lack of racing showed in Olympic pool – Kean

17:00, Aug 03 2012
A disappointed Kiwi Gareth Kean after swimming the 100m backstroke semifinal at the London Olympics.
ANSWERS: Two weeks' holiday in Europe has given Gareth Kean plenty of time to reflect on his Olympic failure.

Wellington swimmer Gareth Kean is looking to develop his career overseas after a disappointing Olympic Games.

Kean suspects a lack of racing in New Zealand is largely responsible for slow times at London 2012 and failing to get near his national records in the 100m and 200m backstroke.

The 200m, the event which two years ago saw Kean claim Commonwealth Games silver as a 19-year-old, was particularly disappointing, almost three-and-a-half seconds down on his best.

Reflecting on a pre-Olympic training camp in Durban with the likes of Chad le Clos, the man who beat his childhood hero Michael Phelps for Olympic gold in the 200m butterfly, Kean says he wants a chance to execute discoveries made from South Africa's proven high performance system.

"New Zealand's isolated in terms of racing and it might be a big flaw in our programme," Kean said.

"We have triathletes that go to Europe for months at a time and Nick Willis is in America for at least half of his year, so it's something that I want to work on and maybe some of the other swimmers will as well.

"A lot of it happens in Europe and the United States, just being more centralised and being able to go to these places would be ideal.

"Sometimes I look back at a season and wonder, if I did race and saw what I was doing wrong and what I was doing right, I could work through any issues.

"Next season I'm looking forward to some racing, and if that means I have to travel, then I have to travel. I'm happy to do that because it's all about doing what's right for you."

Kean said he headed into his Olympic debut having not raced in three months - since the national championships in March.

Swimming New Zealand had arranged a meet in Canberra on the eve of leaving for the London Games.  But, it fell through. 

"We looked to go to Australia three weeks out from the Olympics and the meet got cancelled due to an outbreak of whooping cough, which was unfortunate," Kean said.

"The South African's were away for 10 weeks after I left earlier this year, training and racing through Europe. They had a really solid season.

"I've seen what other people are doing and how they're doing it. To race through the season like that is something I want to try and do.

"I've not raced a whole lot in the past few seasons and it's something I've become more aware of.

"It's key because you get to see where you're at, even if you don't fully taper for it. It's a way to keep you on track and motivated when you're training.

"I'll definitely be looking at how I can get myself ready in future.

"Having that honour of training with Chad before he did that [beat Phelps], it's something I won't forget.

"I just need to be able to put in a plan, stick to it, and try to get the support to be able to do so."


Fairfax Media