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The start of something extraordinary

Leading New Zealand Swimmers Seek International Inspiration

New Zealand’s two highest ranked world swimmers, Lauren Boyle and Glenn Snyders, have travelled far and wide to improve their long term prospects ahead of the State national open championships starting tomorrow in Auckland.

They are among more than 1000 event entries for the six-day championships at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Henderson, which double as the official trial for July’s FINA World Championships.

Boyle, the short course world champion, has recently returned from a three-week stint at the Spanish high altitude training centre in the Sierra Nevada.

Snyders is back for the trials from Los Angeles where he has been based with the Trojans club under renowned American coach Dave Salo.

Boyle, 25, said she got through a massive workload in Spain.

“It was my second time at a high altitude training camp,” Boyle said. “I spent just over three weeks there. It was a lot of hard work, and I training with a group of swimmers I had not met before. I trained with a Spanish club team and it was a lot of fun being around a different group and doing something that I am not use to.

“I think I must be pretty fit because I have been doing a lot of work. That has been coupled with fatigue and tiredness coming from a really long trip from Europe and not really any time for recovery since I got back from Europe.”

The world champion has had a challenging few months since the departure of coach Mark Regan, with former Australian and Great Britain head coach, Bill Sweetenham standing in.

“It has definitely been very rocky since January and pretty testing for my group up here in Auckland. But as a group I think we have done a really good job to support eachother and I am really thankful to have such great teammates and people around me.

“It’s good we have a new high performance director and CEO but the biggest thing for us is the coach. It will be good when we finally get someone.”

She will focus on the 400m and 800m freestyle with some firm objectives in mind.

“First goal is to make sure I am on the team for the world championships in Barcelona. My secondary goal is to get in some good solid racing in for the beginning of the year and practice things that I want to do in Barcelona.”

Snyders, 25, wanted a change of environment to determine if he was still passionate about the sport after missing out on a place in the Olympic breaststroke finals.

He has greatly enjoyed his first few weeks in the squad, which is largely international and features London Olympic gold medallists Oussama Mellouli, Jessica Hardy, Rebecca Soni and Ricky Berens.

“The difference is good though. It has refreshed me and opened my eyes and accordingly I want to keep swimming and move on to Rio,” Snyders said.

He said the move to a squad including several world class breaststrokers was the key for him.

“In the end it is something I have been missing out on, to train with other breaststrokers. We get along and the good thing is we push eachother in training as well.

“They are all top international swimmers and all are going for the same goal towards the world champs.”

Last year Salo’s squad included 13 Olympians who represented 10 different nations.

“Training so far is a lot more quality over quantity. It is mostly at race pace so that every session is always fast and not a lot of recovery. We are doing a lot of different stuff which is taking me a while to adjust to and in some cases learn.”

Accordingly Snyders is unsure of his form coming into the championships.

“Basically I just want to qualify and get under the qualifying time. I am training in yards and doing a lot of very different stuff. I know I will have to go backwards to move forward. If that means that I miss out on qualifying then I am prepared to accept that because I am enthused about the big picture with this change.”

Both Boyle and Snyders will be in action on the first day of the championships in the 400m freestyle and 100m breaststroke respectively.

The championships also include a strong contingent of athletes with disability headed by three London Paralympic stars, Sophia Pascoe, Mary Fisher and Cameron Leslie.

There is a stiff FINA A standard to reach for qualifying for the world championships, although selectors can also consider a FINA B time in an event where no-one has qualified if the swimmer is 22 years or younger with the Rio Olympics in mind.

The other exception is US College-based Kiwi swimmers who are competing in the NCAA Championships.

Tomorrow’s opening day includes the women’s 100 backstroke AWD, 100m butterfly, 200m medley, 400m freestyle, 50m breaststroke and 4x200m freestyle relay along with men’s 400m freestyle AWD, 400m freestyle , 50m butterfly, 100m breaststroke and 4x200m freestyle relay.

The championships begin tomorrow and run until Friday with heats from 10am and finals from 6.30pm.

Full details: www.swimmingnz.org.nz

CAPTION: Lauren Boyle in action at last year’s 25m World Championships.

The image is free for editorial use only. Credit: Ian Macnicol

For further details:

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