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The start of something extraordinary

State NZ Open Swimming Championships - Day 6 Wrap

New national swimming bosses believe the key athletes have produced encouraging performances at the State New Zealand Open Championships that finished in Auckland tonight.

Five swimmers produced 14 performances under the tough FINA A qualifying standards for July’s World Championships, while a group of young hopefuls pushed their way into the reckoning for selection.

Swimming New Zealand’s High Performance Director, Luis Villanueva, who took up the post in January, said he was pleased with efforts from the core of London Olympians.

“Our main leading swimmers from the Olympics have all performed strongly this week. That is encouraging given that this is only a few months after London and of course there have been changes that they have had to deal with,” he said.

“Added to that some of the next group of younger swimmers have shown promise of things to come.

“The key will be the hard work that needs to be done from this point to July’s world championships.”

The key performances were led by world champion Lauren Boyle (North Shore) who set FINA A times in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle, ranked in the top 11 in the world three of the four.

Wellington’s Gareth Kean (Capital) made a welcome return to form following a mediocre London Olympics to qualify in all backstroke distances and took out the men’s 100m butterfly as well. His best was the 100m backstroke where his time ranked him 12th in the world for 2012.

North Shore’s Glenn Snyders showed that his move to California has been beneficial, qualifying in all breaststroke distances, with his best proving a world ranking of fourth in the 50m and 16th in the 100m.

Matamata’s Matthew Stanley qualified in the 400m and 200m freestyle, where he broke the New Zealand record in a time that ranked him 17th in the world for last year.

Young Christchurch star Sophia Batchelor, 17 (AquaGym) produced two FINA A qualifying efforts in the 50m and 100m butterfly, breaking the New Zealand record in the sprint tonight in 26.30s which was the 13th best time in the world for 2012.

The championships were also highlighted with outstanding performances from Paralympic stars Sophie Pascoe and Mary Fisher who bagged nine world records between them.

Fisher (Capital) stole the limelight today with two world records, clocking 1.17.25 in the heats of the 100m butterfly before taking a further two seconds off in the final to finish with a 1.15.17. She claimed the national title and 23 year old Bryall McPherson from Laser Mt Eden took second.

The championships were also highlighted with outstanding performances from fellow Paralympic star Sophie Pascoe with the pair bagging nine world records between them.

Pascoe was just outside the world record in the 100m freestyle, but produced a personal best time to finish in 1.00.69 finished ahead of Tayla Clement (North Shore) and Fisher.

The men’s 100m breaststroke was won by Australian Blake Cochrane with the national honours going to Daniel Sharp (Laser Mt Eden).

The star of tonight’s finals session was 17 year old Sophia Batchelor, who grabbed two national titles and a New Zealand record in the space of 30 minutes.

Batchelor upset the 50m butterfly titleholder and national record holder Samantha Richter, grabbing the win in a new national record time and adding an additional event to her world championship programme.

“I just felt so good. I got clean water and felt really strong in my stroke. My legs were really really sore but I got in and did some kick for like five minutes and then back down to marshalling for the 200m backstroke,” said Batchelor.

Ten minutes after the butterfly she was back in the pool to claim a dominant victory in the 200m backstroke, and once again meeting the selection criteria to swim this event in Barcelona. Consistent 50m splits saw her break the national age group record and produce one of her career bests.

“Sometimes it just clicks, it just seems to work, you’re just flowing, it’s all about your rhythm and you’re just perfectly in time with everything. I think once you’ve found that it’s hard to slip out of it,” she said.

The Cantabrian exceeded her expectations in taking out the two wins, barely able to contain her excitement. “I’m blown away. I did not expect to come here tonight and win two in one night.”

In other finals Australian-based Michael Mincham (Waterhole), 16, took out the 1500m freestyle with a massive personal best in 15:32.13, Nielsen Varoy (Roskill Magic) defended his 50m freestyle title from Cameron Simpson (Templeton) while backstroke star Gareth Kean (Capital) upset the specialists to win the 100m butterfly.

In the battle of the 400m individual medley, Olympian Tash Hind (Capital) won the women’s title in 4:49.80 while Greerton’s Nathan Capp clocked a 4:22.50 to win the men inside the FINA B time.

The team for the world championships will be named tomorrow.

Results, day 6:

Men 1500m Freestyle: Michael Mincham (Waterhole) 15:32.13, 1; Mathew Myers (North Shore) 15:49.28, 2; Dylan Dunlop-Barrett (New Plymouth Aquatics) 15:53.23, 3.

Men 50m Freestyle: Nielsen Varoy (Roskill Magic) 22.98, 1; Cameron Simpson (Templeton) 23.19, 2; Daniel Gregory-Campbell (Napier Aquahawks) 23.51, 3.

Women 50m Butterfly: Sophia Batchelor (AquaGym) 26.30, 1 (NZ Record, World Champs Qualifying); Samantha Richter (North Shore) 26.97, 2; Laura Quilter (North Shore) 26.97, 2; Laura Quilter (North Shore) 27.31, 3.

Men 100m Butterfly: Gareth Kean (Capital) 54.69, 1; Paul Benson (Heretaunga Sundevils) 55.10, 2; Shaun Burnett (North Shore) 55.20, 3.

Women 100m Backstroke: Sophia Batchelor 2:12.31, 1; Kate Godfrey (Neptune) 2:15.46, 2; JoMari Meyer (Greendale) 2:17.59, 3.

Women 400m Individual Medley: Tash Hind (Capital) 4:49.80, 1; Samantha Lucie-Smith (Capital) 4:52.93, 2; Godfrey 4:54.97, 3.

Men 400m individual medley: Nathan Capp (Greerton) 4:22.50, 1; Mitchell Donaldson (North Shore) 4:24.60, 2; Bradlee Ashby (Fairfield) 4:24.69, 3.

Women 100m Butterfly, AWD: Mary Fisher (Capital) 1:15.17, 1 (World Record); Bryall McPherson (Laser Mt Eden) 1:27.25, 2.

Men 100m Breaststroke AWD Multi-Class: Blake Cochrane (AUS) 1:18.93, 1 (Visitor’s Gold); Daniel Sharp (Laser Mt Eden) 1:09.94, 1; Daniel Gaualofa (Bay of Islands) 1:28.52, 2; Christopher Arbuthnott (Ice Breaker) 1:34.63, 3.

Women 100m Freestyle AWD Multi-Class:  Sophie Pascoe (QEII) 1:00.69, 1; Tayla Clement (North Shore) 1:12.90, 2; Mary Fisher (Capital) 1:11.46, 3.

CAPTION: Sophia Batchelor celebrates her win at the State NZ Swimming Championships in Auckland tonight.

The image is free for editorial use only. Credit: Simon Watts.

Details: www.swimmingnz.org.nz