The Dunedin swimmer sets off today for the biggest journey of her career to date – the Mare Nostrum Series, followed by her first long course world championships.
It would have the potential to stimulate a lot of nerves in most.
But it was the excitement Deans felt yesterday as she packed her bags for Europe and the reality of what she was doing really hit her.
Breaking the qualifying mark for the world championships – a stunning 16-minute 27.34-second swim in the 1,500m freestyle at the nationals a month ago – had been his big hurdle.
This had been particularly important after missing the Tokyo Olympics last year.
Having now broken through that barrier, it was all about learning as much as possible and swimming as well as possible.
She will participate in the 1500m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle relay.
“I think it’s just going out and doing my best,” Deans (22) said.
“Obviously it was important for me to qualify. I don’t really have big expectations or huge goals.
“But I can take a lot from watching some of the top athletes at these competitions. It will just be to go out there and make myself and everyone else who helped me get there proud.”
She will compete in the championships alongside fellow Dunedin swimmers Erika Fairweather and Ruby Heath.
Deans heads out early, as she will be on the Mare Nostrum series beforehand.
The series consists of three two-day meetings – in Monaco, Barcelona and Cannes – with short deadlines between each.
Head-to-head, Deans will prepare in Mallorca.
She’d competed in a variety of freestyle races each, though she’d probably pick the ones she actually did closer to the time.
From there she will join the New Zealand squad in Bratislava in early June, before traveling to Budapest on June 15 for the world championships.
Deans felt she was in a good position to do it all.
While testing positive for Covid-19 four days after the Nationals hadn’t been ideal, the situation wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
She had a very light dose of the virus and it coincided with a break after the championships for the team.
Her return to training had been gradual, although she felt fine now.
It also meant she could be sure her pre-departure test would come back negative and she would be allowed to board her flight to Los Angeles.
She felt no sequelae and had a good fitness base to build on – currently doing nine swimming sessions, two gym sessions and one pilates session a week.
These swims can be anywhere between 4km and 8km.
It was his ability to stick to that grind over the years that had been important in getting him to this point.
“Swimming is a consistency sport,” she said.
“It’s about constant training, constant effort in training and showing up and giving your best. I love the sport.
“Obviously, training can sometimes be tough when there’s an alarm at 4 a.m. But I love swimming, so it’s pretty easy to stick with it.”