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Hundreds farewell Duncan Laing

Published: 6:35PM Wednesday September 17, 2008 Source: ONE News

The man who taught generations of New Zealand's top swimmers has been given a hero's send off.        

A thousand people turned out in Dunedin to farewell coach Duncan Laing who died on Saturday after a long battle with cancer.

Hundreds gathered to honour the remarkable life of a humble man who over 40 years gave more than 30,000 people the gift of swimming.

Laing loved all sports, and tried many. It has been said he could have been an All Black but his love of water was to become his life.

His greatest star was well aware of his passion.

"He gave me, and I hope the larger audience here, the same thing - that is the courage to get out there and try, even if it seems impossible," Olympic double gold medallist Danyon Loader said.

Laing combined a gruff and demanding, uncompromising, poolside presence with a kind generous and patient concern for his young charges.

And there were lighter moments like his inability to remember names and his habit of falling asleep - anywhere and loudly!

Tough yet gentle, hard yet soft, gruff yet caring - Andrew James Duncan Laing will be sorely missed.