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The start of something extraordinary

Cantabrian swimmers return home for State NZ Opens

Three Cantabrian swimmers, who have been training in the United States, have returned for the 2014 State New Zealand Open Championships this week. Sophia Batchelor, Natasha Lloyd and George Eglesfield will all be competing at the event which doubles as qualifiers for the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships.

Batchelor has said that training overseas compared to home is “like comparing apples and oranges. Both are good, but they couldn’t be more different. I find training in the US to be fast, trying to get on pace for a short race, then backing off, then going again. Previous to that, it was always about going as fast as you can for as long as you can.”

Eglesfield also mentions the added difference of training at a higher altitude.

“I train and live at an altitude of over 7,200 feet which is a lot harder than sea level, especially when trying to hold my breath underwater. Training for 25 yard (22.86m) competitions has also meant I have had to focus on my turns and underwater a lot more than I used to, which is difficult at altitude but makes a huge difference when going down to sea level,” he said.

In the lead up to Opens they have also done things differently to what they are used to and compared to those preparing for the event in New Zealand.

“It has been different to what I am used to, but not necessarily in a bad way,” said Lloyd. “I have been on taper for a very long time due to important college swim meets. Taper there is taken far more seriously than here and it lasts a lot longer.

“So with that in mind, for the last few months my trainings have been far shorter than they would be at home both time wise and the amount of distance done. They encourage avoiding stairs and gym drops drastically and encourage busing to class rather than walking. But I'm feeling strong.”

In some of their recent highlights Batchelor and Lloyd were able to compete at NCAA against some top swimmers, while Eglesfield had a successful campaign at the Western Athletic Conference Championships.

All three swimmers are looking forward to being able to catch up with friends and family again while they are back in New Zealand. Eglesfield is also looking forward to being able to swim in a long course pool again and Batchelor said she is looking forward to enjoying some good steak!

The State New Zealand Open Championships begins tomorrow and goes until Friday 11 April at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Henderson, Auckland.

All finals sessions will broadcast LIVE on SKY Sport 4 from 7pm.