Taranaki coach only one in New Zealand with swimmers in four international teams
It's dark as Julian Weir pulls into the empty carpark outside the Bell Block swimming pools, but inside the splash of his Team Aquablades New Plymouth teammate's training already echoes off the walls.
The group of seven are the only ones in the water and even though their coach, Sue Southgate, has just headed off to Australia they're still putting in the effort under the watchful eye of Donna Bouzaid.
Their toil is paying off: Sasha Reid competed in the Australian age group champs in April, while Charlotte Webby, Zac Reid, and Julian Weir are all due to head overseas in the coming months.
Bouzaid put that down to the culture created by Southgate, who is the only coach in the country to have a swimmer in all four national teams this year.
* Taranaki swimming records set in Australia
* Taranaki swimming stars of the future at Stratford pool
* Two records and two medals for Taranaki swimmers at champs
* Taranaki swimmers set five records
"When you think of all the big clubs in the cities, it's a big feat to have one swimmer on an international team but to have four different swimmers all in one year making all the New Zealand teams, that's pretty significant and it shows the credibility of Sue as a coach and also the athletes here, and it proves that you don't have to be in the big city to succeed and make intentional teams," she said.
In a sport where twice-daily trainings almost every day of the week are normal, the swimmers' success was a product of the extra work they put in each session.
That was largely the result of a team culture where everyone was expected to put the effort in, every time.
"Sue has a very strong culture: work hard or don't bother coming," Bouzaid said.
"You have a programme that has a culture of wanting to succeed and that's what the athletes are like."
Bouzaid pointed out that it also showed there was the pathways available swimmers, including regional and national championships before they got to the level required to compete internationally.
After Sasha's success in Australia, her older brother Zac will be competing in the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, while Charlotte Webby is preparing for the World Champs in Hungary at the same time.
Julian Weir will round out the international quad when he competes at the World University Games in Taiwan in August.