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The start of something extraordinary

FINA World Swimming Championships - NZ Heats Day 2

Lauren Boyle has wiped a massive amount off her own national 1500m freestyle record to qualify for the final on the second day of heats at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona.

The 400m freestyle bronze medallist from the opening day took 14 seconds off her New Zealand record to finish sixth fastest in the heats of the non-Olympic distance and will contest the final tomorrow.

Two teammates will be back for the evening semifinals with Matamata’s Matthew Stanley 11th fastest in the men’s 200m freestyle heats and Wellington’s Gareth Kean 14th fastest in heats of the 100m backstroke.

Swimming in the first of three heats, Boyle clocked 16:02.90 to finish third behind the 2011 world champion Lotte Friis (DEN) who was the fastest qualifier in 15:49.26. Boyle’s time was a tick under 14 seconds faster than her New Zealand record of 16:16.83 set at the New Zealand Open Championships in March.

The 25 year old set a solid schedule, not drawn into the blistering early pace by Friis who was well under the world record split in the early stages. The Kiwi went through the 400m in 4:12, the 800m in 8:30 and the 1200 in 12:48 in a controlled performance.

Friis was fastest overall, a shade ahead of yesterday’s 400m gold medallist Katie Ledecky (USA) with Chilean veteran Kristel Kobrich third fastest, with the trio the only swimmers under the 16 minute barrier.

Stanley, who like Boyle swims at Swimming New Zealand’s High Performance Centre under head coach David Lyles, made a strong start in his heat of the 200m freestyle. He went through in 52.71s and finished fourth in his heat in 1:48.01, which was only 0.3s outside his national record.

After just missing out on the final of the 400m freestyle, Stanley will need to go faster than he has before if he is to secure a place in the final.

Kean, who swims at the Wellington Regional High Performance Centre under coach Gary Hurring, made a slow start in his heat of the 100m backstroke, finishing fifth in the final heat in 54.37. While he qualified for the semifinals, Kean was a second outside his own national record but he is a proven big time performer who will need to be at his best tonight (local time) to make it into the final.