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The start of something extraordinary

Games swimming squad doubles up for Pan Pacific test

The Commonwealth Games swimming squad will form the basis of the team named today for the Pan Pacific Championships in August.

The 16-strong team comprises all Glasgow-bound swimmers plus outstanding 14-year-old backstroke prospects Gabrielle Fa’amausili (Roskill, Auckland) and Bobbi Gichard (Greendale, Hawkes Bay). Also included are open water swimmers Kane Radford (Rotorua) and Charlotte Webby (AquaBladz, Taranaki) who were selected following the BHP event at Perth in February.

The quadrennial Pan Pacific Championships will be staged in the Gold Coast on 21-25 August, three weeks after Glasgow, with the open water event off Southport Marine Stadium on 25 August.

It will be the highest level meet of the year, involving full strength teams from founding federations USA, Canada, Australia, Japan as well as Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, China, Chinese Taipei, Ecuador, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Chile and Zimbabwe among others.

Leading the way is Lauren Boyle, who will resume her battles with American Katie Ledecky who won gold medals in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle at last year’s world championships, where Boyle claimed bronze medals.

Boyle, Corey Main (Howick Pakuranga), Glenn Snyders (North Shore), Matthew Stanley (Matamata), Fa’amausili, Gichard, Emma Robinson (Capital) and Corey Main (Howick Pakuranga) all qualified as individuals.

Both Fa’amausili and Gichard will compete in next month’s National Age Group Championships, which doubles as the trial for both the Junior Pan Pacific Championships and Youth Olympics. Their availability for the Pan Pacs may be reviewed dependant on resulting commitments for the other two key junior events.

New Zealand swimmers will also contest the women’s and men’s 4x200m freestyle relay and women’s 4x100m freestyle relay.

“The Commonwealth Games is very important to us for sure and is a first major focus,” said Swimming New Zealand High performance Director, Luis Villanueva.

“The Pan Pacific Championships is our toughest international competition behind the world championships and will present us with a real test of where we sit in the world two years out from the Rio Olympics.

“This will be a challenge for swimmers from Commonwealth countries to peak for Glasgow and then perform three weeks later in Australia. We will need to prepare very thoroughly and monitor our swimmers closely after the Commonwealth Games.”

The championships will be staged in the new Gold Coast Aquatic Centre still under construction, which will be the venue for aquatics at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

It is the third time Australia has hosted the Pan Pacs, following Brisbane in 1987 and Sydney in 1999.

The Swimming New Zealand qualifiers for the Pan Pacific Championships are: Lauren Boyle (United, Auckland), Mitchell Donaldson (North Shore, Auckland), Dylan-Dunlop Barrett (Coast, Auckland), Gabrielle Fa’amausili (Roskill, Auckland), Bobbi Gichard (Greendale, Hawkes Bay), Tash Hind (Capital, Wellington), Ewan Jackson (Howick Pakuranga, Counties Manukau), Steven Kent (Coast, Auckland), Samantha Lee (Capital, Wellington), Samantha Lucie-Smith (Capital, Wellington), Corey Main (Howick-Pakuranga, Counties Manukau).