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The start of something extraordinary

Kean Back to Winning Ways in Europe Swim Meet

Wellington backstroker Gareth Kean is back in the winner’s circle after an excellent performance at the Mare Nostrum meet in Spain today.

The 21 year old has taken out the 100m backstroke on the second night of finals at Barcelona in the annual series of meets around the Mediterranean, attracting many of the world’s best swimmers.

New Zealand swimmers, in Europe in preparation for next month’s FINA World Championships, earned a further three medals following three on the opening night.

Lauren Boyle grabbed her second silver medal in the 400m freestyle while Matt Stanley won bronze in the men’s 200m freestyle. The squad earned eight places in A Finals in an improved showing.

Kean, who qualified fastest, got a strong start in the final of the 100m backstroke to grab the advantage at the turn, and held off the Spaniard Aschwin Wildeboer for the win in a tight contest, clocking a solid 54.70.

Boyle was again in the sandwich between Spanish Olympic medallists Garcia Belmonte and Melanie Costa Schmid in the finals of the 400m freestyle.

The New Zealander began fast before the double Olympic medallist Bemonte took over at the midway mark, and streaked to a negative split win in 4:05.99 with Boyle finishing strongly for second in 4:07.75 and Schmid a further second back.

Stanley showed continued improvement this week with a solid effort to place third in the 200m freestyle after a disappointing 400m freestyle on the first day. He was in second place at the 150m mark behind Japan’s Yuki Kobori but was edged back to third by the fast-finishing German Yannick Lebherz clocking 1:49.50.

Glenn Snyders was fourth in the 50m breaststroke (28.20) after qualifying second while he cramped in the morning heats of the 200m breaststroke and did not qualify for the A final.

In other swims Samantha Lucie-Smith was an excellent fifth in the 400m freestyle in 4:15.49; Steven Kent, preparing for the US Opens in August, was seventh in the 200m freestyle in 1:51.30; Nathan Capp was seventh in the 400m individual medley in 4:28.39 and Samantha Lee was seventh in the 200m butterfly in 2:15.22.

Most of the squad will contest the final round in Canet at the weekend, while the open water swimmers go into camp in Barcelona and some of the squad head to altitude training at Sierra Nevada.

Results, Mare Nostrum, Barcelona, day 2:
Men 50m breaststroke: Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 27.59, 1; Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 27.69, 2; Felipe Lima (BRA) 27.93, 3; Also: Glenn Snyders (NZL) 28.20, 4.
Men 400m individual medley: Daiya Seto (JPN) 4:12.71; Maksyum Shemberev (UKR) 4:20.42, 2; Semen Makovich (RUS) 4:20.85, 3. Also: Nathan Capp (NZL) 4:26.39, 7.
Men 100m backstroke: Gareth Kean (NZL) 54.70, 1; Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 54.96, 2; Vitaly Borisov (RUS) 55.10, 3.
Women 200m butterfly: Gardia Belmonte (ESP) 2:08.88, 1; Judit Ignacio (ESP) 2:10.20, 2; Martina van Berkel (NED) 2:11.65, 3. Also: Samantha Lee (NZL) 2:16.12, 7.
Men 200m freestyle: Yuki Kobori (JPN) 1:48.50, 1; Yannick Lebherz (GER) 1:48.93, 2; Matthew Stanley (NZL) 1:49.50, 3. Also: Steven Kent (NZL) 1:51.30, 7.
Women 400m freestyle: Garcia Belmonte (ESP) 4:05.99, 1; Lauren Boyle 4:07.75, 2; Melanie Costa Schmid (ESP) 4:08.38, 3. Also: Samantha Lucie-Smith (NZL) 4:17.25, 5.