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The start of something extraordinary

State NZ Open Swimming Championships - Day 5 Wrap

World champion Lauren Boyle showed her class with back-to-back gold medals in world championship qualifying times on the penultimate night of finals at the State New Zealand Swimming Championships in Auckland.

Boyle set the fastest time in the world this year of 8:23.11 to win the 800m freestyle, and then went straight back to the blocks to win the 100m freestyle, both in times to qualify for July’s world championships.

Her efforts were matched by fellow Olympians Glenn Snyders and Gareth Kean who won the 200m breaststroke and 200m backstroke respectively in championship qualifying times.

This brought the world championship FINA A qualifying performances to five swimmers and 13 events.

Paralympics superstar Sophie Pascoe added to her haul with another world record in the 200m freestyle, her fourth of the championships.

Boyle added her specialist event, the 800m freestyle, to her busy world championship schedule. Smashing the qualifying time by 11 seconds, Boyle clocked 8.23.11 to finish just outside her national record set at the London Olympics.

She raced out to an early lead and was unchallenged the whole way but this didn’t faze her.

“It’s sometimes nice doing it by yourself because you’re not freaking out about trying to win. I really had to focus on sticking to my own pace,” said Boyle.

Within minutes she was back in the pool taking out the 100m freestyle, displaying her versatility in the freestyle events. She was predictably not the first to the 50m mark but came home strongly to clinch the win from better known sprinters Tash Hind and Hayley Palmer.

Boyle, who set herself a heavy schedule, has come away with world championship qualifying times in all five freestyle events that she contested from 100m to 1500m.

“I thought once I got my first qualification out of the way in the 400m that I’d just do something to really try and challenge myself so I decided to swim every event that I was entered in,” said the 25 year old. 

After a challenging build up to the championships, she is happy with her performances.

“I guess I didn’t know what to expect with all the changes in coaching but for now I’m thinking I’m going to stay in New Zealand and wait for the new coach and hope that it pans out well.

“It’s relieving to qualify for the team and you just have to try and get something out of the situation that you didn’t really know what to do with,” she said.

Pascoe claimed victory in the 200m freestyle with yet another world record, clocking 2:13.25 which was a tick under the previous mark. She is using the championships to start her preparations towards the Rio Olympics.

“That was definitely hard. The record itself does not mean that much to me. This is a non-Olympic event but it forms part of our goal towards the 400m freestyle for Rio,” the Christchurch swimmer said.

“So to get a personal best and a world record means I am on target. I need to sit down with my coach now and work things out from here but it is definitely encouraging. But that one hurt.”

Kean was firmly in control in his victory in the 200m backstroke, adding to his win in the 100m backstroke earlier in the meet.

He was outside his New Zealand record but it  was a pleasing performance for the Capital club swimmer after a disappointing Olympics and an abbreviated build-up to the national championships.

“It was definitely hard. It is how I wanted to swim it, to go out hard and really feel the hard. It was not a really fast time but you have to swim that aggressively to get a good time,” Kean said.

“I think I’ve got a very positive outlook for this year. Everything has clicked into place and i think after last year’s Olympics I am really motivated to come back and prove myself.”

Snyders qualified for his third world championship event in the 200m breaststroke. He was outside his best, ducking under the qualifying time by 0.2s, but was happy to add another race to his Barcelona programme.

“My main goal was to make the qualifying time and I did it so I couldn’t be happier,” said Snyders.

Now based in Southern California, Snyders isn’t in a programme tailored towards the 200m but he likes to race the event to help with his fitness and backend speed for the 100m, his specialist event.

“We don’t really do 200m work, I’m normally in what they call short sprint so it’s a bit different. I tend to do a lot of fast paced 50s and broken 200s, different things like that,” he said.

“I plan to go back to America as soon as possible, just to get back into the programme. Around the end of May I think we may be going to Europe so it might tie in quite well,” said the North Shore swimmer.

The championships finish tomorrow.

Results, day 5:

Women 800m freestyle: Lauren Boyle (North Shore) 8:23.11, 1 (World Champs qualifying); Emma Robinson (Capital) 8:42.01, 2; Bonnie Macdonald (AUS) 8:45.20, 3.

Women 100m freestyle: Boyle 55.75, 1; Tash Hind (Capital) 56,31, 2; Hayley Palmer (North Shore) 56.52, 3.

Men 200m backstroke: Gareth Kean (Capital) 1:58.39, 1 (World Champs qualifying); Kurt Crosland (Neptune) 2:00.12, 2; Ben Gillies (North Shore) 2:03.83, 3.

Women 200m freestyle AWD Multi-Class: Sophie Pascoe (QEII) 2:13.25, 1 (World Record); Sarah Fuhrer (St Peters) 4:21.79, 2.

Men 100m butterfly AWD Multi-Class: Rick Pendleton (AUS) 1:02.69, 1 (Visitor Gold); Jesse Reynolds (Fairfield) 1:10.48, 1; Christopher Arbuthnott (IceBreaker) 1:24.21, 2; Daniel Gaualofa (Bay of Islands) 1:28.06, 3.

Women 200m breaststroke: Abbie Johnston (AquaGym) 2:33.13, 1; Beckie Dooley (Jasi) 2:36.16, 2; Natasha Lloyd (North Canterbury) 2:36.37, 3.

Men 200m breaststroke: Glenn Snyders (North shore) 2:12.52, 1 (World Champs qualifying); Nic Ferrif (North Shore) 2:16.38, 2; Matthew Glassford (Neptune) 2:17.01, 3.

Women 100m breaststroke AWD Multi-Class: Mary Fisher (Capital) 1:37.92, 1; Nikita Howarth (Cambridge) 1:29.80, 2; Emily Grace (St Pauls) 1:35.79, 3.

Men 100m freestyle AWD Multi-Class: Daniel Holt (North Shore) 56.20, 1; Michael Anderson (AUS) 56.08, 2 (Visitor); Jesse Reynolds (Fairfield) 1:03.83, 2; Daniel Gaualofa (Bay of Islands) 1:01.61, 3.

CAPTION: Lauren Boyle celebrates her double gold medals in the 800m and 100m freestyle at the State NZ Swimming Championships in Auckland tonight.

The image is free for editorial use only. Credit: Simon Watts.

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IAN HEPENSTALL  Media Manager Swimming NZ High Performance Sports Media NZ Ltd Tel 09 2327822 Mob 0275 613181 E: ian@sportsmedianz.com Skype: kiwiheps