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The start of something extraordinary

Three more swimmers qualify for world championships

London Olympian Matthew Stanley had to dig deep to edge out Howick Pakuranga teenager Ewan Jackson in an exciting 400m freestyle final at the State New Zealand Short Course Swimming Championships in Wellington tonight.

Stanley out-touched Jackson to win by 0.2s in 3:42.63, with both swimmers going under the qualifying mark for December’s world championships in Turkey.

The night was sparked early with Christchurch teenager Sophia Batchelor dipping under the qualifying time with a superb performance in the women’s 200m backstroke which she won in 2:04.13, three seconds under the FINA A time.

This brings the tally of qualifying performances to five midway through the meet.

The third night of finals at the Kilbirnie Aquatic Centre produced some superb and close performances, with swimmers relishing the 5m deep water with the Wellington City Council changing around the pool configuration.

Batchelor, 17, had the agony of missing qualification for the London Olympics by 1/100th of a second in the 100m butterfly.

Tonight the Aquagym swimmer, coached by Leanne Speechley, was all class in winning the 200m backstroke in 2:04.13, three seconds inside the world championship time. She was the only swimmer under the 30 second mark for the first 50m and was three seconds clear when she went through the halfway mark in 1:00.96, and came home strongly.

“It was a fantastic race, I felt so good in the water. Training has been really good with the team and we are really pulling together,” said Batchelor. “I’ve been training so hard and it really came together.”

She said missing out on the Olympics had helped her look at her swimming.

“Within the last two years all my swims have been about making this time or getting on this team. It has been outcome-based so I had got away from racing and focussing on the wrong thing. I got away from the bit I love so missing the Olympics helped me reassess how I was swimming.

“The experience of my first world championships helped me immensely. I was the only one there last time and I was absolutely terrified. Now I know what to expect.”

Jackson, another of the super-talents to come out of the outstanding Howick Pakuranga age programme, took it to the national long distance record holder Stanley in an exciting 400m freestyle.

The younger swimmer opened up a one second advantage after 100m and he held that until the final two lengths, when Stanley unleashed a withering 26.74 second finish to grab the victory.

Both swimmers were more than three seconds under the qualifying time for Turkey and their performances were in the top 15 in the world this year.

“It was a hard swim but definitely rewarding. It feels really good,” Jackson said. “I tried to swim my own race but I kind of gauged myself off him (Matthew Stanley) a little bit. He’s been to the Olympics. I knew as long as I was around him at the finish I would have a chance of qualifying.

“My big goal is to break out on to the world scene. I have been telling myself in training that I need to work harder to get on to the international scene this year. I want to build towards the next Olympics and do some damage.”

London Olympian Natalie Wiegersma (Waverley, Southland) took out the 100m individual medley in 1:03.17 in a super-close race. Wiegersma, fourth at the midway stage, prevailed with seven swimmers within 0.7s of the winner.

Otago’s Kurt Crosland (Neptune) fought through in the final 100m to claim the men’s 200m individual medley in 1:58.68 ahead of North Shore’s Ashton Baumann, who led early. However Baumann, 19, bounced back to take out the men’s 200m breaststroke emphatically in 2:12.73.

In other finals Nielsen Varoy (Roskill) added the 50m butterfly title to his freestyle honours in 23.96, the only swimmer under the 24 second mark, while Samantha Richter (North Shore) won the women’s 50m freestyle in a slick 25.83.

The championship finishes on Thursday.

Day 3 Open finals results:

Men 200m individual medley: Kurt Crosland (Neptune) 1:58.68, 1; Ashton Baumann (North Shore) 1:59.44, 2; Corey Main (Howick Pakuranga) 2:01.29, 3.

Women 200m backstroke: Sophia Batchelor (AquaGym) 2:04.13, 1 (World Championship qualifier); Kate Godfrey (Neptune) 2:10.35, 2; Caroline Baddock (Laser Mt Eden) 2:11.58, 3.

Men 50m butterfly: Nielsen Varoy (Roskill) 23.96, 1; Adam McDonald (Roskill) 24.21, 2; Kurt Crosland (Neptune) 24.55, 3.

Women 100m individual medley: Natalie Wiegersma (Waverley) 1:03.17, 1; Laura Quilter (Comet) 1:03.29, 2; Chloe Francis (North Shore) 1:03.33.

Men 400m freestyle: Matthew Stanley (Matamata) 3:42.63, 1 (World Championship qualifier); Ewan Jackson (Howick Pakuranga) 3:42.83, 2 (World Championship qualifier); Steven Kent (North Shore) 3:47.75, 3.

Women 50m freestyle: Samantha Richter (North Shore) 25.47, 1; Samantha Lee (Capital) 25.79, 2; Naomi Smit (North Shore) 25.82, 3.

Men 200m breaststroke: Ashton Baumann (North Shore) 2:12.73, 1; Julian Layton (Greendale) 2:14.22, 2; George Schroder (AquaGym) 2:15.33, 3.