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The start of something extraordinary

Battle looms in 200m freestyle showdown tonight

There’s expectation of a battle royal with world championship relay spots up for grabs on the second night of finals at the New Zealand Open Swimming Championships in Henderson tonight.

This follows an outstanding opening night with six able-bodied swimmers and six Para-Swimmers qualifying for the world championships last night at the West Wave Aquatic Centre.

Matamata’s Matthew Stanley, who qualified in the 400m freestyle last night, led the way in the men’s 200m freestyle heats today in 1:50.60 ahead of fellow Commonwealth Games representatives Corey Main (1:50.82) and Ewan Jackson (1:50.99).

Star performer Lauren Boyle (United) was the class of the women’s 200m freestyle heats, easing to a 2:00.07 ahead of fellow Aquablacks Emma Robinson (2:03.51) and Laura Quilter (2:03.79).

Tonight the four fastest male swimmers will need to average approximately 1:49 and the females 2:00 to qualify a 4x200m freestyle relay for the world championships. The real challenge for each will be the selection criteria of two swimmers who need to reach the individual FINA A times, which are 1:48.37 for the men and 1:58.93 for the women.

There will be a real battle between 15-year-old rivals and friends Gabrielle Fa’amausili (Roskill) and Bobbi Gichard (Greendale) in the final of the 100m backstroke.

Gichard led qualifiers in 1:02.05 to Fa’amausili’s 1:02.60 with the individual qualifying time of 1:01.25 needed tonight if both want to make it to Russia. If no-one achieves the qualifying time, there is a provision for development swimmers of a FINA B time of 1:01.86 for one swimmer.

In other heat swims, Glenn Snyders (North Shore), who qualified in the 100m breaststroke last night, was all class to top the 50m heats in 27.65, nearly two seconds clear of George Schroder (Hokitika) and Matthew Phillips (Wharenui).

Waikato’s Helena Gasson (Fairfield) was fastest in heats of the women’s 200m butterfly in 2:14.79, well clear of Yeonsu Lee (North Shore) and Samantha Lee (Capital), while Bradlee Ashby, also Fairfield, led qualifiers in the men’s 400m individual medley in 4:28.29 to set up a battle with Nathan Capp (Greerton) 4:29.23 in the final tonight.

In Para-Swimmers events, Sophie Pascoe was well under the world championship qualifying time in heats of the 100m backstroke in 1:08.69, promising to go faster again tonight, while she is also aiming to lower her own world record in the 200m freestyle tonight.

Tonight’s finals session starts at 7pm.

CAPTION: Matthew Stanley in action today.

The image is free for editorial use only. Credit: BW Media

NZ Open Championships