The Final Lap
Celebrated Taranaki-born swimming coach Duncan Laing – who held a four-decade coaching tenure at Dunedin’s Moana Pools has died – aged 77. Laing is best known for coaching swimming star Danyon Loader to gold in the 200m and 400m freestyle at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. In an editorial in the Otago Daily Times he is remembered: “Society, easily undermined by cynicism and the bad that does happen, thrives on positive figures who encourage, inspire and support … And on the grand scale, come those whose impact is deep and wide, with Mr Laing the obvious exemplar. As former Sport Otago chief executive Paul Allison said, Mr Laing was continually giving in all aspects of his life and never asked for anything in return … Thank goodness for the sake of the South that Mr Laing set up at Moana Pool, itself not long opened, in 1966. The rest, as they say, is history.” When he retired in 2006, he said: “It will be very difficult to finish up. I wish I was 30 years younger and know what I know now.” Laing was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2005 Queen’s Birthday Honours; he was a recipient of an OBE in 1993 and was made a life member of Swimming New Zealand in 1996. He was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
Duncan Laing: 20 June 1933 – 13 September 2008