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The start of something extraordinary

Stanley confident of strong showing in Commonwealth Games swim trials

Waikato swimmer Matthew Stanley believes he has all his ducks in a row for quality performances at the State New Zealand Swimming Championships starting in Auckland on Tuesday.

The four-day meet at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Henderson doubles as the official trial for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, as well as qualifying for next month’s Oceania Championships and the Pan Pacific Championships in August.

Stanley, 22, who competed in the 2012 Olympics in London, believes he will need to be on his A game to meet the challenging qualifying standards.

“The main focus is qualifying for Glasgow first. If I tick all the right boxes with the process, split it properly, work hard on my skills then I have done pretty much all I need to do to get a good time,” Stanley said.

“The qualifying standards are really tough. They are faster than what we needed to make the London Olympics. That has fuelled everyone since the qualifying times were announced. It is going to be really hard just to make it but if you do, then you should have a good chance to medal.”

The double national record holder has not moved to focus on one event, but believes the two main freestyle distances have combined benefits.

“The 200m and 400m freestyle complement each other really well. To do well in one you have to be able to do well in the other. The fitness I need for the 400 helps in the back end of the 200, while the speed from the 200 is important to set the tempo in the 400.”

Stanley moved into international reckoning when he broke Danyon Loader’s long standing records in both the 200m and 400m freestyle two years ago. While not able to reduce those marks since, he believes nonetheless that he has made progress.

“With swimming you can’t gradually improve the whole time. A lot of the time I have been improving in training but not been able to put it together on race day. That will come. I just have to be patient and make sure I don’t make the same mistake twice.

“I think I am in good stead for these championships. I am really fit and really excited to race again.”

After significant change in the high performance organisation, Stanley said he and the other swimmers have responded positively to a settled environment and leadership over the last 12 months.

“They (High Performance Director Luis Villanueva and coach David Lyles) have made some really positive steps. Our whole group has benefitted and we are all moving forward. And we have some young kids in the squad who are really putting in the work as well.”

The high performance squad underwent a month-long camp at altitude in Arizona which Stanley hopes will provide the ideal preparation for success this week.

“It was my second time at altitude. I did a lot better this time and my fitness levels have benefitted. We did some things a little differently and did a bit more work when we came back which was a benefit. “My fitness levels are higher and so the back end of my races should go well.

“It is exciting. You only get to race fully rested with a bit of pressure a couple of times a year.”

Stanley is in action in the 400m on the opening night on Tuesday, while he is looking forward to the 200m freestyle on Thursday where he hopes he can lead a group to collectively go under the qualifying time for the 4x200m freestyle relay for Glasgow.

Heats begin each day at 10am with finals from 7pm, as well as being shown live on Shy Television.