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The start of something extraordinary

State NZ Open Swimming Championships - Day 2 Wrap

Three qualifying swims, two national records and the emergence of a potential new star highlighted the second day of the State New Zealand Swimming Championships in Auckland today.

World champion Lauren Boyle produced a stunning swim to break her own national record in the 1500m freestyle in the second fastest time in the world this year and 10 seconds inside the FINA A qualifying time for July’s world championships.

Fellow London Olympian Matthew Stanley (Matamata) was nearly half a second inside his own New Zealand record in winning the 200m freestyle in 1:47.13, and more than a second inside the qualifying time for the Barcelona championships.

Wellington’s Gareth Kean joined the pair on the team to Barcelona when he took out the 100m backstroke in 53.76, his second swim of the day under the qualifying time.

This high profile group were potentially upstaged by brilliant 13 year old prospect Bobbi Gichard from Hawkes Bay who won the women’s 100m backstroke in a time that qualified her for the junior world championships.

Boyle reeled off consistent splits in the 32 second range before powering home in 16:16.83, four seconds under her previous record and the 11th fastest time in the world for last year.

The result somewhat surprised Boyle who may now consider taking the event more seriously.

“I have never really considered the 1500 as a potential medal event because I am such a novice at it, but if I can continue to work on it and keep improving at a similar rate it would be fantastic,” Boyle said.

She believes her hard work at altitude in Sierra Nevada, Spain last month has proved a help.

“I think especially in the longer races the benefits of the altitude training really helped. I felt much stronger in this race than in the shorter races.

“The key tonight was just relaxing because I did not have any time orientated goals so I just went in to enjoy it and I think that helped.”

Stanley produced a stunning performance in the 200m freestyle, dipping under his own national record and cementing his place on the world championship team with his second qualifying time of the meet.

The 21 year old demonstrated his improved speed taking out the race right from the start.

“I’ve been trying to work on taking it out fast in training so I can mix it with the big boys at the world champs. I’ve been training as hard as ever, putting in the hard yards in getting ready for Barcelona,” Stanley said.

A national record was a surprise to the Matamata swimmer but his strong race plan paid off.

“The second 50 was probably the most important. I was really trying to hold my stroke in that 50 and not use a huge amount of energy so I could come back in that last bit.”

Kean (Capital) went under the qualifying mark in the morning heat in 53.73, nearly a second inside the qualifying mark and only 0.3s outside his national record. He was a blink of the eye slower in dominating the evening final which pleased Kean who has had a limited build-up this year.

“It is a solid time similar to the morning and a time that I am not unhappy with. I have showed some consistency which is pleasing,” Kean said. “I’ve had a shorter build-up after a long break after London and with some time at altitude, and this is really pleasing.

“I think that work at altitude should help me for the 200m and hopefully my speed with kick in.”

Teen sensation Gichard won her first national open title in the 100m backstroke. The 13-year-old from the Greendale club was third at the 50m mark but finished strongly to produce a world junior championship qualifying time, along with another 13 year old, Gabrielle Fa’amausili from the Laser Mt Eden Club.

“I’m just so excited. I’m a bit tired though,” said Gichard. “Now I have to try and qualify for Dubai in the 200m backstroke and just do what my coach tells me.”

Tonight’s action brings the number of swimmers qualified for the world championships to five, with Boyle and Stanley having qualified in two events.

The championships continue until Friday.

Results, day 2:

Women 100m backstroke: Bobbi Gichard (Greendale) 1:02.61, 1; Kate Godfrey (Neptune) 1:03.04, 2; Sophia Batchelor (Aquagym) 1:03.09, 3.

Men 200m freestyle: Matthew Stanley (Matamata) 1:47.13, 1 (NZ Record, World Champs Qualifying); Dylan Dunlop-Barrett (New Plymouth Aquatics) 1:49.73, 2; Steven Kent (North Shore) 1:50.44, 3.

Women 100m breaststroke: Abbie Johnston (Aquagym) 1:11.36, 1; Beckie Dooley (Jasi) 1:11.57, 2; Emily McGill (Capital) and Natasha Lloyd (North Canterbury) 1:12.30, equal 3.

Men 100m backstroke: Gareth Kean (Capital) 53.76, 1; Kurt Crosland (Neptune) 55.07, 2; Kurt Bassett (Laser Mt Eden) 55.72, 3.

Women 1500m freestyle: Lauren Boyle (North Shore) 16:16.83, 1 (NZ Record, World Champs qualifying); Emma Robinson (Capital) 16:37.30, 2; Tabitha Baumann (North Shore) 16:46.83, 3.

CAPTIONS: 13 year old Bobbi Gichard in the 100m backstroke at the State NZ Swimming Championships in Auckland.

The images are free for editorial use only. Credit: Simon Watts.

Details: www.swimmingnz.org.nz

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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