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The start of something extraordinary

New heights for Radford in Olympic open water swim qualifier

Rotorua swimmer Kane Radford has gone to new heights in his quest for the London Olympic Games. 

The 21 year old completed a gruelling three weeks of training at altitude at Flagstaff, Arizona with the Swimming New Zealand High Performance squad last month, clocking up more than 250kms.  

He hopes the hard yards will see him in shape for Saturday’s State New Zealand Open Water Championships at Lake Taupo, which double as the qualifying event for London. The top two New Zealand men and top two women will qualify for June’s final qualifying race in Portugal, where nine swimmers will earn an Olympic start in the 10km open water contest.   Radford is looking for a solid performance although he has not peaked for the qualifier.  

“Really the focus has to be on June. I’ve done a massive amount of work and I am still in big work load. We will freshen a couple of days before the weekend but this is about getting the job done and moving on,” Radford said.  

“The 10km swims can take it out of you so you can’t afford to peak for this weekend and expect to peak again in June and if you are successful peak for a third time in London. I have faith that I am in good shape and that I’ve done the work. Now I just have to put that into practice.”  

Radford said he is pleased that leading Australians Trent Grimsey and Josh Richardson are in the field.  

“They will be using the race to test their training towards the Australian championships and so they will make sure the pace is on. I want a world class pace for sure.”  

Radford has not had much success over the 10km distance in recent times. He was second to Grimsey at the Oceania 10km at Lake Okataina in 2008, fourth at Taupo in 2010 and fifth last year. Across the Tasman he was seventh at the Australian 10km titles in 2009, eighth in 2010 and seventh last year.  

Most of his success has come over shorter open water distances with victory in the Australian 5km championships last year, second in the New Zealand 5km along with two great wins in the prestigious Tiburon Mile in San Francisco in 2009 and last year.  

There will be a major battle for the two men’s spots for Portugal between Radford, Auckland’s Phillip Ryan (Waterhole), his clubmate Jonathan Pullon, the Wellington pair of Isaac Foote and Casey Glover and talented teenager Stefan Talbot (Howick Pakuranga).  

Ryan, 21, has plenty of credentials as the defending national champion over the 10km distance. He was third in 2010 (and second kiwi), and edged out Radford at the Australian championships in 2009 and 2010, although he finished 13th last year. The Waterhole club swimmer is returning after injury last year.  

Glover, 25, is another who has battled some shoulder issues, remedied he hopes with regular pilates. He has spent time under leading Australian coach Denis Cotterell on the Gold Coast as well as his Capital club in Wellington.  

Glover was runner-up last year behind Ryan, and achieved the same placing in 2010 behind Australian George O’Brien. He warmed up with a third placing in the New South Wales champs last month.  

Main kiwi hopes in the women’s race are the Australian-based pair of Cara Baker (Howick Pakuranga) and Charlotte Webby (Taranaki) who will be challenged by former world champion and five-time Australian champion Melissa Gorman.  

The race forms part of the two-day State Epic Swim in Lake Taupo, a range of elite and New Zealand Masters Championship races and recreational events that have attracted approximately 500 entries for the weekend.  

The 10km championship is on Saturday along with the recreational swims, with the 5km national championships and New Zealand masters title decided on Sunday.