Craigs Investment Partners, November 2021

A lifetime of training brought New Plymouth swimmer Zac Reid to his first Olympic Games in Tokyo. The magnitude of his achievement washed over him in July as he first stepped on the pool deck. “I looked up and saw the Olympic rings over the pool and I had a big smile on my face. That was a cool moment for me.”

Zac swam in the 400-metre and 800-metre Olympic freestyle events. The 21-year-old is no stranger to international competition, having won a silver medal in Tokyo in the FINA World Cup in 2019. But the first race of the 2020 games (held this year) did not go as Zac had hoped. “At the time, I didn’t know how bad my hip was. I rushed into the 400, but then treated the 800 as a normal race and enjoyed the moment, which I think helped me to swim my fastest.”

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The most unexpected part of the Olympics, says Zac, was how well swimmers had trained throughout the pandemic. “I was surprised by the number of world records and how fast the swimming was.”

He won his 800-metre heat, breaking his own New Zealand record. While Zac’s time wasn’t good enough to progress further in the Games, the race qualified him for the world championships next year. Zac also hopes to swim in the Commonwealth Games, though competing at both events depends on recovering from injury. Zac is awaiting surgery for torn torn labrum in his hip, something he says happened in the gym months before the Games. “We’ll see how rehab goes. It’s day-by-day.”

Craigs Investment Partners has been a key part of Zac’s story this year. He credits advisor Andrew Butterworth for connecting him to the team at Craigs New Plymouth and area manager Geoff Brown for providing life advice. “He’s someone I can chat to who’s not going to be biased, and I value his input about things I can do outside of the pool,” says Zac.

Refocusing after a major milestone like the Olympics is difficult for any athlete. But Zac has a strategy to minimise the struggle. “When you’re ready to get back in, it’s important to sit down with the team and make goals. You need a good support system around you.” He repeats what coaches have told him for years: Hard work always beats talent when talent fails to work hard.

When he’s not working hard in the pool or at the gym, Zac studies for a bachelor’s degree in Earth Science at Massey University and watches NBA games on television.

Quick Q&A with Zac Reid

What or who inspires you? I have a couple of close friends who inspire me: Erika Fairweather and Lewis Clareburt. I roomed with Lewis at the Olympics, and we’ve been on nearly every New Zealand swimming team together since 2016.

How do you prepare for a race? What do you eat? At the Olympic village, it was easy to eat the same things as at home because there were so many different foods. I find it hard to eat on race day because I get nervous. I try to eat a full breakfast and keep hydrated. That was crucial in Tokyo because it was so warm. Music is also a big tool for me. I don’t wear headphones that drown everything out, but I have a bit of music to keep the rhythm going.

What are some challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them? I’ve battled injuries. I was in a moon boot three months before the Olympic trials. Being able to overcome that and put my best foot forward and qualify was huge. Fundraising is another challenge. When I was 16, I had a trip to Hawaii and the Netherlands for surf lifesaving and it was user-pays, which was tough. That’s where Craigs comes in because they help with those challenges. Balancing normal life while being an athlete is also tricky. It was that way while I was in high school and still is while I study part-time at Massey University.

What advice would you give young Kiwis aspiring to be great in sport or in life? My coaches told me hard work always beats talent when talent fails to work hard. You have to show up and put in the hard work to get the rewards.

Hometown? New Plymouth

Favourite podcast or show? I like to watch freestyle BMX videos and basketball. The NBA is my favourite show. Whenever it’s on, I try to watch no matter who’s playing. If I wasn’t a swimmer I wish I had the skills to be a basketballer. I walked past NBA stars in the Olympic village and Rudy Gobert, with the Utah Jazz, had a conversation with me. That was super crazy.

Motto you live by: A lot of people talk about making sacrifices, especially in sports. But I like to use the term making investments in myself. For example, if it’s two months until the Olympics and I’m invited to a party, saying ‘no’ is not a sacrifice. It’s an investment in myself.