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The start of something extraordinary

Boyle Eighth in Freestyle Final

Lauren Boyle was unable to back up her sensational morning effort and finished eighth in the Olympic women’s 400m freestyle final tonight.

Boyle swam 4min 03.63s to smash her own national record in the morning heats. In the final she was slightly sluggish and recorded 4min 06.25s.  The race was won by Frenchwoman Camille Muffat in 4min 01.45s.  Boyle, 24, was anything but downhearted after the final. “It didn’t pan out how I thought it would,” she said later. “But I’ll take a 4min 03s any day.

“I’ve learnt a lot from today. I haven’t swum such a fast heat before then had to come out in the evening for a final. I didn’t handle it as well as I wanted.”

Boyle had hoped to have a quiet afternoon while she prepared for the final, but said her mind was “whirring”. “I felt fine when we started, but I made the mistake of watching the big guns instead of swimming my own race. It was a fatal mistake.”

She now hopes to take her good form into the 800m freestyle. “I’m excited by what’s happened here. I never dreamed I’d make an Olympic final, so now I’m very encouraged to keep on swimming."

The other New Zealander in action this evening was Wellingtonian Gareth Kean in the men’s 100m backstroke semi-finals.  Kean, the 14th of 16 qualifiers for the semis, went out like a rocket and led in his semi at the halfway point.

However, his pace slackened noticeably on the journey home and he finished eight in his race, 13th overall, in a time of 54.00s. In his heat he swam 54.26s. “I wanted to have a decent shot at it. I definitely wanted to be aggressive,” Kean said. “I struggled a bit over the last 15 metres, but overall I was pretty happy.”

Kean said he was now looking forward to his other big race, the 200m backstroke.

New Zealand’s other swimmer in the 100m backstroke, Daniel Bell, recorded 55.53s and was 37th overall. The fastest of the 100m backstroke men was American Matthew Grevers, who recorded 52.92s.

In the women’s 100m backstroke, Melissa Ingram finished fifth in her heat in 1min 01.94s, which left her in 30th place overall among the 45 starters in her event.

Matthew Stanley failed to advance in the men’s 200m freestyle, where his 1min 48.19s placed him 18th overall, just outside the top 16 for tonight’s semi-finals. Stanley, whose New Zealand record for the distance is 1min 47.57s, missed out on the semis by just 0.22s.

Credit:  Getty Images