Lauren Boyle clocked 4:05 over 400m free and cracked her national 1500m freestyle record to become one of five swimmers to race inside world-championships qualification targets over the first two days of action at the New Zealand Swimming Championships in the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Henderson in Auckland.
The 25-year-old was joined by fellow North Shore swimmer Glenn Snyders (from heats), Sophia Batchelor (17, Christchurch, and on 58.84 in the 100m butterfly), Matthew Stanley (Matamata) and Gareth Kean (Wellington).
On day 1, Boyle clocked 4:05.67 in the 400m freestyle heats to take the helm of the first-quarter world rankings, no others inside 4:07 so far. Boyle took the national title in 4:06.39 and said, through her federation's press office: "I am pretty happy with that. It is good to swim two times that were comparable with what I would need to swim to make a final at the world championships. I have been working really hard and I think I am pretty fit.
"I would have liked to have gone a little faster (last night) but it is still two good solid swims. I'm now looking forward to the 1500m (today) and then the 800m and I think these swims set me up OK for those events to come."
She returned today to take the 1500m crown in 16:16.83, 4sec off her best and the national mark. “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.
Having spent last month at altitude in Sierra Nevada, Spain, Boyle believes training on high will reap rewards: “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."
On day 1, Snyders, based in southern California, put in a strong 1:00.14 in his heat of the men's 100m breaststroke and then won the final in 1:00.20. He said: "Coming back from America the uncertainty was there. I don't know exactly where I'm at in my training because everything is yards over there. But I backed myself and this morning it paid off."
Stanley clocked 3:48.92 to win the 400m free and said: “I think I was a little bit slow through the middle of the race but it’s hard when you’re out there by yourself. I did what it took to qualify and I’m happy with that. I think by the time I adapt to the new training I can go a lot faster,” Stanley said. Today, Stanley added the 200m freestyle to his Barcelona 2013 schedule in 1:47.13.
Kean took the 100m backstroke in 53.76, his second swim of the day under the qualifying time after a swift heats effort of 53.73. “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,” said Kean. “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.”
The meet also witnessed a fine prospect in the making: 13-year-old Bobbi Gichard, from Hawkes Bay, clocked 1:02.61 to win the 100m backstroke, the time qualifying her for the junior world championships.
“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.”
Results at a glance - Day 1 and 2: