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The start of something extraordinary

Ingram “patiently waiting” for London Olympics

Swimming’s senior pro Melissa Ingram knows that patience is a virtue.

The 26 year old will have to wait for the penultimate individual race on the final night of the six-day State New Zealand Championships for her signature event, the 200m backstroke.

A long and exhausting build-up has her buoyed with confidence for the championships starting tomorrow at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Henderson that double as the Olympic Trials.

Ingram, coached by Scott Talbot at Swimming New Zealand’s high performance centre, has already gone under the qualifying time for the London Olympics in the 200m backstroke, but that is not all that is in her sights this week.

“The 200m backstroke is always at the end. I definitely have to make sure I stay focussed throughout the meet but I’ve got a few key races earlier in the week. I am going to have a crack at the 100m backstroke and the 200m freestyle as well,” Ingram said.

She faces the 100m backstroke on Monday where her best is only 0.1sec outside the qualifying mark for London, while she is also keen to snare a place among the fastest four in the 200m freestyle to secure a spot in the women’s 4x200m relay which has already qualified for London.

“It has been a really long, solid build-up over about eight months. I have had a couple of stints of competition so I am really excited to finally have a full taper and hit-out at nationals.

“It has been really good. I have remained illness and injury free so I have put in a lot of hard training. So now it’s a matter of resting up and maintaining technique, working on good skills and hoping that it all comes together.”

Ingram has learned to be patient and persistent through the ups and downs of her long international career that stretches back over a decade, beginning when she was a finalist in the 200m backstroke at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

She missed out on selection to the 2004 Athens Olympics but bounced back with a medal in 200m backstroke at the world short course championships later the same year.

Ingram won a medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 and qualified for Beijing in 2008. Again she missed selection for the important worlds in Rome the following year, although it did not prove such a speed bump, with the championships dogged by the “shiny suit” fiasco.

Once more Ingram showed her fortitude with a medal in the prestigious Mare Nostrum series in Europe and she finalled at the Pan Pacific Games in 2010.

Now she has London in her sights, meeting the qualifying standard at last year’s world championships in Shanghai, although Ingram aims to go faster next week.

“It is a bit of a security blanket in a way but also I am not complacent having done the time. There are some up-and-comers who can obviously knock me off so I am attacking it like any other trials really.

“It definitely means you can concentrate a bit more on the way you swim the race and there is a bit of security in the back of your mind but generally you have to attack it like you would any other time.”

The championships begin tomorrow with heats from 10am and finals from 6.30pm with the team for the London Olympics named after the last session next Friday.