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Kiwis Overseas

11 December 2019

Daniel and Jonathan
Daniel and Jonathan in Tomb Raider and Toucan Do It Classic Trunks and Briefs

From crowd filled stadiums to the picturesque ski-fields, Kiwis are passionate about their sports, producing world and Olympic champions and the mighty All Blacks and Silver Ferns. The cliché of punching above their weight rings true for the small nation as they continue to impress the world with their sporting achievements. We caught up with New Zealand Funky Trunks athletes Jonathan Rutter and Daniel Hunter who have spread their wings to set up a training base away from home with the goal of cracking the international stage.

Daniel Hunter
Daniel was a natural at our most recent photoshoot for the Colour Sphere collection

Daniel, was it difficult to make the decision to move from New Zealand?

Yes, it was very difficult. I had been with my coach, Jana Wilkitzki, and team for around 5 years and she had got me to the point where I was but the idea of being able to train long course and in a warmer climate definitely helped the decision.

How does training at Bond University Swim Club compare to other clubs you've trained at?

The sessions aren't too different to what I have previously done but I find myself being pushed by the people I?m training with. The facilities are also a big step up from what I have had access to in the past.

In what ways has making the move to Australia improved your swimming?

The closeness of everything of the Gold Coast means I spend a lot less time in the car which makes recovery easier. Also, because there is a large concentration of world class sprint freestylers training over here it makes for some good quality racing.

How did it feel to represent New Zealand at the FINA World Cup last year?

Obviously, it is an amazing opportunity every time I get to wear the New Zealand cap and represent my country. It was great to be able to do it on so many occasions last season.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I would have to say that I'm most proud of my results at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. My racing there was some of my best ever. I made finals in the 100m Freestyle and 50m Butterfly and came 4th in the 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay. It was a great trip with a lot of experiences to take home.

Tokyo 2020 is inching closer. How will your training differ in the lead up to the Olympics?

I will probably keep it similar. We did a large aerobic block leading into racing this season that will set me up for this year and next so I will do my best to keep building on that.

Jonathan Rutter
Jonathan travels with his trusty sidekick to most meets

Jonathan, when did you start swimming and what got you into racing?

I had just turned seven when I started swimming. Once I realized that racing meant staying up late and winning ribbons, I became marginally more enthusiastic. My parents were significantly more enthusiastic about swimming because I was less awful. They kept signing the paperwork and paying the bills, and here I am today.

How did training as part of the Yale University swim team compare to other clubs you've trained at?

Training at Yale was certainly more difficult than what I'd done before, with longer sessions and higher volume, but the biggest change came from the team environment. I'd never trained with people who could keep up with me in difficult sets, let alone beat me like some of my new teammates could. Every race took on a new importance - winning as a team really mattered. I learned how to race the guys next to me every single day, not just at one or two meets a year.

How did you find life as a student-athlete?

Student-athlete life is extremely challenging, but I did not find it significantly more challenging than I had in high school. I have been balancing training and studies for as long as I can remember. The most difficult part for me has been appreciating life along the way. Each year was over before I knew it, though by the end I think I'd learned to look up from my work and enjoy life a bit more.

Now that you are graduated where are you training?

I'm training at Virginia Tech in Christiansburg, Virginia. I moved here because I was accepted into Pinnacle Racing VT, a pro training group under Coach Sergio Lopez Miro. It's a very international group that includes a few Olympians and is breaststroke-heavy, so I feel very privileged to be a part of it.

How did it feel to represent New Zealand at the FINA World Cup last year?

It's a huge honour to represent New Zealand at any international event. I was raised in the States, but always taught to identify as a Kiwi. Racing with the silver fern on my cap seems to validate that part of who I am - it symbolises a nation, a culture, and my own personal history. I was especially proud to compete at the World Cup in Singapore, because my mum's side of the family lives there. At that meet it felt like all these pieces of my background fell into place.

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