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The start of something extraordinary

Boyle primes for 800m freestyle battle

Star New Zealand swimmer Lauren Boyle is safely through for another final at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

The 27 year old was well in control, clocking 8:23.66 to qualify fourth fastest for the final of the 800m freestyle to be swum on tomorrow’s night’s programme.

Boyle, the bronze medallist in 2013, swam well within herself to finish third in the final heat, won by defending champion and world record holder Katie Ledecky with 2009 World Champion Lotte Friis (DEN) second.

“It was a comfortable swim for Lauren and she is in a good lane for the final,” said coach Graeme Laing.

While Ledecky is expected to be in a class of her own for the gold medal, there will be a five-way battle for the other places on the podium, with only 2.5 seconds separating Jessica Ashwood (AUS), Friis, Boyle, Jaz Carlin (GBR) and Sharon van Rousendaal (NED).

New Zealand teammate Emma Robinson clocked 8:44:86, well outside her best, to be 27th fastest.

Earlier 15 year old rising star Bobbi Gichard from Hawkes Bay set a personal best 2:13.45 to be 25th fastest in the heats of the women’s 200m backstroke while Waikato teenager Bradlee Ashby was a fraction outside his best to clock 54.57 to be 47th from 73 swimmers in the 100m butterfly.

Swimming New Zealand High Performance Centre swimmer Nathan Capp is the only Kiwi in the pool in the heats on the penultimate day, when he contests the preliminaries in the 1500m freestyle.

There are no New Zealand swimmers in tonight’s finals programme (local time).

The championships conclude on Monday NZ time.

CAPTION: Bobbi Gichard in action. (The images are free for editorial use only. Credit: Ian MacNicol).