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The start of something extraordinary

Boyle Scores Historic Swimming Medal at World Championships

Lauren Boyle became the first New Zealand female to win a medal at the FINA World Swimming Championships after earning the bronze in the 400m freestyle in Barcelona today.

The 25 year old finished third in the final of the 400m freestyle to win just the sixth medal ever by a New Zealander at the long course world championships since 1973 and the first since Danyon Loader 20 years ago.

Boyle, who won the FINA Short Course World Championships over 800m freestyle in December, was fourth fastest in the morning heats. But a changed strategy in the final saw her home third behind Olympic gold medallist Katie Ledecky (USA) and world short course champion Melanie Costa Schmid (ESP) in 4:03.89.

“I went out pretty fast in my heat and I really paid for it in the second 200m this morning so I didn’t really want to do the same thing tonight,” Boyle said. “I felt a lot stronger in the last 50 than I did this morning.

“It was a really good swim. I am really happy with it. I think I did well at just racing it instead of getting too caught up with what time I was going to go. It was my goal to get a medal and I can’t be happier.

“I really didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t fully know if I could do it. I just tried to be really happy before it rather than being too scared.”

Boyle said she understood the significance of her performance today, in winning the first world championship medal since Loader’s three medal haul in 1994 in Rome.

“It makes me feel emotional. I am so proud to be in that same league as Danyon. What an honour. He has achieved so much for our country and I am not at his level but to be in the same kind of league is quite incredible.

“The most important thing for me was just trying to be confident in myself. I have had lots of different coaches but I think picking the best parts out of each experience is probably what helped me.

“I wanted to improve my results from London and I am so happy to be on the podium.”

She has little time to savour the effort, as she returns to the pool tomorrow for heats of the 1500m freestyle.

“I am excited about the 800, but we will see about the 1500.”

The only other Kiwi swimmer to advance to the evening programme on the first day of pool competition was London Olympian Glenn Snyders.

He qualified fifth fastest in the heats of the 100m breaststroke in an impressive 59.92, only 14/100ths of a second outside his national record set in the heats at the Olympics. However he could not improve on this in the semifinals, finishing seventh to miss out on a place in the final.

Earlier Matthew Stanley finished 10th fastest in heats of the men’s 400m freestyle in 3:48.25, his best of the year, but half a second outside his national record that would have seen him into the final.

Christchurch’s Sophia Batchelor was 23rd in the heats of the 100m butterfly outside her best.

Tomorrow’s second day of competition will see Gareth Kean in the heats of the 100m backstroke, Stanley in the 200m freestyle and Boyle in the 1500m freestyle.

Finals results:
Women 400m freestyle: Katie Ledecky (USA) 3:59.82, 1; Melanie Costa Schmid (ESP) 4:02.47, 2; Lauren Boyle (NZL) 4:03.89, 3.
Semifinal, Men 100m breaststroke: Christian Sprenger (AUS) 59.23, 1; Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 59.78, 2; Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 59.78, 3. Also: Glenn Snyders (NZL) 1:00.22, 7.

Men 400m freestyle: Yang Sun (CHN) 3:44.67, 1; RyanCochrane (CAN) 3:45.74, 2; Jordan Harrison (AUS) 3:46.85, 3. Also: Matthew Stanley (NZL) 3:48.25, 10.
Women 400m freestyle: Ledecky 4:03.05, 1; Costa Schmid 4:04.20, 2; Jazmin Carlin (GBR) 4:04.85, 3. Also: Boyle (NZL) 4:04.96, 4.
Men 100m breaststroke: Sprenger 59.53, 1; Kirill Strelnikov (RUS) 59.80, 2; Fabio Scozzoli (ITA) 59.88, 3. Also: Snyders 59.92, 5.
Women 100m butterfly: Dana Vollmer (USA) 57.22, 1; Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 57.28, 2; Katerine Savard (CAN) 57.31, 3. Also: Sophia Batchelor (NZL) 59.46, 23.