Little Fish in a Big Pond

By Joshua Sampson – 10/08/2018

For those of you who don’t know our very own Kristin student Tiernan Keane recently represented the Cook Islands at the XII Oceania Swimming Championships, held in Papua New Guinea for the 25th to the 30th FullSizeRender 4of June. That’s right, Tiernan joins the elite ranks of talented Kristin students who have been to an international competition.

Tiernan has been a competitive swimmer for four years, representing Coast, an Orewa based swim club, at the past two National Age Group Championships. But he wasn’t planning on stopping there. “Obviously there’s the ultimate ambition of making the Olympic team, that’s any kids dream.”

Taking the next step towards his goal, he decided to go to his first international meet. But why represent the Cook Islands? “I’m one-quarter Cook Islander” Tiernan says. “My Grandfather was born in Aitutaki and was the chief of his village, so I thought that it would be a really cool opportunity”.

But it wasn’t a straightforward process. Despite having the times necessary to qualify, Tiernan struggled to prove his heritage, with legal documents confusing referring to his grandfather by two different names, his native name and his anglicised name. It wasn’t until 8 days before the meet that Tiernan found out he would be able to go.

Not great prep. “Yeah, 8 days notice for your first international meet is a bit jarring”. Did that have an effect on his performance? “Yes, I think that too an extent it did affect me, because I didn’t get to properly do the whole tapering process, so that was disappointing”.

Tiernan swam some great times, including a cook-islands record 27.29 in the 50m butterfly and a 1:01.50 in the 100m fly. Unfortunately, Tiernan wasn’t able to produce any Personal Bests, which he attributes to the problematic training schedule and a lack of international experience.

The Cook Islands Swim Team

Despite the setbacks, Tiernan has taken some valuable lessons from his first international experience. Most importantly, he’s taken away some motivation to keep going. “The atmosphere’s great, everyone’s so psyched to be there so it was awesome. It’s just so encouraging to know that I can swim at this calibre of competition.” He’s also taken away some valuable lessons about how to train effectively. Having only so many hours in a day, and having to balance Year 13 with training and relaxing, he’s decided that he needs to train “more effectively. I’m putting in the effort but I’m not getting the results, so I need to train smarter, not harder.”

Does he have any more plans for greatness? No yet, other than the Olympics which “are still my dream”. Instead, he’s decided to double down and recommit himself to training. So, he’ll be training for the foreseeable future, working down those times until he’s good enough to come out and smash it his the next international meet.

Maybe we’ll see him at Tokyo in 2020. Whatever happens, you can be sure to stay up to date right here on the daily dove.


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