McMillan thrives on NZ surf captaincy

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Article written by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Journalism

Otago Olympic swimmer Andy McMillan has the perfect remedy for any lingering post-Games depression, throwing himself into preparations for next week's surf lifesaving world championships.

The St Clair club member will captain a 12-strong New Zealand team gunning for the Rescue 2012 title, after competing in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay in London.

"Everyone talks about the post-Olympic depression but I had a holiday around Europe after the games, which I was excited about, and then I got back and was straight into world champs preparation," McMillan explained.  "Everything has flowed on beautifully."

The Cromwell-raised 27-year-old has been based on the Gold Coast for much of the last two years and it has revitalised his training for both codes.  He shifted to Queensland to train at the Southport Club under coach Glen Baker in early 2011 after several frustrating years in Auckland, having grown up under the tutelage of Duncan Laing in Dunedin.

"I had a few rough injuries during the last couple of years in Auckland and in hindsight, I should've gone straight from Mr Laing's programme to the Gold Coast.

"I've really relished the move and I've got a good support network over here, with friends I swim with and also the surf lifesavers over here are a bit like a family.  It's been really good."

Adelaide will be his third world surf lifesaving championships, after competing in Germany in 2008 and Egypt in 2010, where he claimed individual gold in the 200m obstacle race by beating Italian rival Federico Pinotti.

The New Zealand team will be without long-time team captain Glenn Anderson and his partner Ayla Dunlop-Barrett, who are due to have their first child, but McMillan is confident he can step up.

"I had Glenn as my captain for a couple of years and learned a lot off him so it's a privilege and honour to named as captain this time around.

 "We've got a big belief in this team and that's the most important thing to have at this level. The Aussies will never be a pushover but we're pretty focused on what we can do, rather than worry about them, and we've got all that experience.  We've got a few rookies but they'll be able to lean on the others who've been there before."

Among the rookies are Olympic relay swimmer Natasha Hind (Lyall Bay), New Zealand ironman champion Max Beattie and rising star Devon Halligan.

Halligan, the daughter of former Kiwis league player Daryl, is the reigning New Zealand open and under-19 ironwoman champion and the Australian under-19 ironwoman title holder.

Steve Ferguson (Piha), Hind, McMillan (St Clair) and Titahi Bay's Steven Kent all competed at the London Olympics, while Ferguson also competed at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics in both swimming and kayaking.

New Zealand's last outing at Rescue 2010 in Egypt saw them come agonisingly close, with Australia pulling clear on the last day to win by 24 points.

New Zealand led after the first two days in the pool but the Australian beach strength - led by ironman Shannon Eckstein and his Northcliffe teammate Kristyl Smith - helped them snatch the title.

The last Kiwi success at the world championships was on home sand in 1998.

While McMillan, Hind, Sam Lee and Kent will shoulder a heavy workload in the pool, New Zealand have bolstered their beach squad.  Sprinters Paul Cracroft-Wilson and Chanel Hickman will be key figures, with Fitzroy's Cracroft-Wilson back to defend the beach flags title he won in Egypt.

Rescue 2012 will begin in Adelaide on November 7 with the five-day national teams competition, followed by the world interclub championships until November 18.

A New Zealand under-20 team will also compete at the titles, while several Kiwi clubs are sending squads to the interclub component.

NZ open team: Max Beattie (Omanu), Steven Ferguson (Piha), Paul Cracroft-Wilson (Fitzroy), Steven Kent (Titahi Bay), Andrew McMillan (capt, St Clair), Kevin Morrison (Mairangi Bay), Nikki Cox (Westshore), Devon Halligan (Midway), Chanel Hickman (Mairangi Bay), Natasha Hind (Lyall Bay), Samantha Lee (Lyall Bay), Laura Quilter (Wainui).

NZ under-20 team: Chris Dawson (Midway), Toby Harris (Wainui), Ben Johnston (Papamoa), Ben Quilter (Wainui), Sam Shergold (Mt Maunganui), Cory Taylor (Midway), Carina Doyle (St Clair), Emily Hodges (Piha), Danielle McKenzie (Mairangi Bay), Dannielle O'Connor (Omanu), Natalie Peat (Papamoa), Karina Radley (Mt Maunganui).

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