TODAY |

Kiwi teen Erika Fairweather looking to follow in NZ swimming great Danyon Loader's footsteps

While most of the country sleeps, 15-year-old Dunedin swimmer Erika Fairweather is training.

With her alarm clock set for 4.30am four days a week, the teenager is quickly putting in the hours to become one of the country's hottest swimming prospects.

"I train seven times in the pool and I go down to the gym twice [each week]," Fairweather says.

Just five years after taking the sport up competitively as a ten-year-old, Fairweather broke Rebecca Perrott's 43-year-old national age grade record in the 400 metre freestyle last month.

It's quickly made her one of the top junior prospects in the world.

"She's swimming faster, clearly faster than any fifteen-year-old that we've ever had," NZ Swimming targeted athlete and coach manager Gary Francis says.

Fairweather's next goal is to go marginally quicker at next month's New Zealand Open and qualify for the World Championships in South Korea.

She'll then be off to the Junior World Championships in Hungary a month later.

"I guess a lot has changed, I mean I've definitely upped the sessions and upped the intensity, I've just got bigger goals now," Fairweather says.

Based in Dunedin, Fairweather swims in the same pool NZ Olympic gold medallist Danyon Loader once trained.

She's hoping to one day share the same success he had.

"This is a smart coach, smart parents and a really smart kid, so we've just got to make sure we do the right thing for her without overcooking it and without giving too many expectations," Francis says.

The New Zealand Open Championships starts June 17 in Auckland.