Hard work pays off with record medley swim

Julian Weir is reaping the rewards of hours of hard work in the pool.

The 16-year-old New Plymouth Boys' High School year 12 pupil is the first Taranaki swimmer to dip under the minute mark for the 100m individual medley.

The Aquabladz Taranaki swimmer clocked a fast 58.85 seconds in the boys' 16-years-and-over race at Swimming Taranaki's short course winter champs at the TSB pool in Stratford last weekend.

His time easily beat the mark of 1min 1.47sec clocked by Taranaki Olympian Dylan Dunlop-Barrett in 2009.

"I hadn't swum it [the medley] for a while and everything went well," Weir said before heading to training. "My previous best was just over a minute."

The 100-metre medley starts with a 25m length of butterfly, followed by a length of backstroke, a length of breaststroke and a final length of freestyle.

Weir said he started swimming at Stratford seven years ago with coach Clive Wheeler. Last year, he switched to the Bell Block pool and coach Sue Southgate "mainly because of my schooling; I'm a day boy at Boys' High".

He trains nine times a week - two-hour morning sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and two-hour afternoon sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 5pm till 7pm.

So how does he juggle his homework?

"I don't have much time to do homework, I try to get it all done at school. Any assignments, I try to do in the weekends."

It does not leave any time for other sports.

"My focus is on swimming. It's a big time commitment. Sometimes you wonder why you do it. It's good when you're getting good times, not so easy when things aren't going so well. It can be a bit of a drag."

It also means little or no social life for a teenager.

"You miss out on that. You kind of have to make sacrifices."

Making those sacrifices may be the difference between achieving a couple of long-term goals - the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"They're my main goals. I watched most of the swimming in London and watched Dylan's race. I want to make it to Rio."

There was another record at the short course champs, with Stratford's Joshua Gilbert breaking his 200m breaststroke record of 2min 59.13sec with a swim of 2min 58.23sec for 10-11 year boys.

Several other swimmers posted national qualifying times, with the champs attracting 152 swimmers from nine clubs.