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The start of something extraordinary

State New Zealand Open Championships – Day 1 Wrap

World swim star Lauren Boyle led an outstanding start with five Commonwealth Games qualifying performances on the opening night of the State New Zealand Open Championships with Commonwealth Games qualifying performances in Auckland tonight.

Boyle smashed her own national record to win the women’s 200m freestyle in 1:57.67 which is the 11th fastest time in the world this year and the fifth fastest time in the Commonwealth.

Joining her with performances under the qualifying mark for Glasgow were Matthew Stanley (Matamata) in the 400m freestyle, US-based Glenn Snyders in the 200m breaststroke, the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay as well as brilliant Paralympian Sophie Pascoe in the 200m individual medley.

That means seven swimmers will be considered for nomination from the first night of the four-day meet at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Henderson.

Boyle not only broke her record but dragged the key women from the Capital club – Samantha Lucie-Smith, Emma Robinson and Tash Hind – under the combined adjusted time to be considered for selection in the women’s 200m freestyle relay.

Boyle was delighted with her performance and despite her international ranking, was relieved to get a qualifying time under her belt.

“I’m feeling happy to post a good time. I wasn’t feeling great in warm ups so I just wanted to really try and enjoy the race,” Boyle said.

“It’s takes off a bit of pressure now that I’ve qualified so I don’t have to worry and can concentrate on performing the rest of the week. I’m looking forward to the 400 and 800.

“I am really impressed with the other girls, particularly Emma who had a huge PB tonight and will be great in the relay.”

Lucie-Smith, who raced the relay at the London Olympics, was second in 1:59.02, just ahead of Robinson who went under the two minute mark for the first time, taking more than three seconds off her previous best.

Hind, the veteran double Olympian, was fourth just over the two minutes. Their collective time, with a standard deduction for relay changeovers, is the fastest time in the world this year and puts them into medal potential in Glasgow.

Stanley set the tone for the night when he went under the qualifying time in the men’s 400m freestyle, clocking 3:47.90, nearly a second under the standard and only 23/100ths outside his own national record.

The Swimming New Zealand High Performance squad swimmer went through the 200m in 1:53.21 in typically languid style, two seconds faster than his morning swim, and was just under four seconds faster at the 300m mark.He came home strongly to clock 3:47.90, which was nearly a second under the standard for qualification for the Commonwealth Games.

“It’s a relief more than anything. I have to be happy with that. To some degree it has taken the pressure off and I can relax more for the rest of the meet and go faster in the 200m,” Stanley said.

“Maybe the first 100 was a bit soft and also the final 100m but I was really happy with the middle 200m.

“It is the fastest I have gone since the New Zealand record. It’s a great way to start the meet.”

Snyders was only 0.7s outside the qualifying mark in the morning heat of the 200m breaststroke, but made sure of it with a quality swim tonight. He was a full second faster through the halfway mark and home in 2:11.07, his fastest time since the London Olympics.

After focussing on the shorter distances since his move to celebrated US coach Dave Sato in Los Angeles 15 months ago, surprised himself with his performance tonight.

“I did not know what to expect because my focus has been on the shorter distances,” Snyders said. “I found it a bit different because all my career the meet has started with my main event the 100m on the first night.

“I was close this morning and had to dig deep in the last 40m for sure.

“It gives me some confidence and now I have to recover for the 100m breaststroke tomorrow.”

Pascoe was in a class of her own with a superb effort in the morning heat of the 200m individual medley S10.

The world record holder clocked 2:31.50 which is 14 seconds under the qualifying time, and only six seconds outside her world record.

“It was a good swim from Sophie. We are just starting our build-up campaign for Glasgow and then the Pan Pacific Championships so today was an encouraging swim and nice to get the qualifying out of the way,” her coach Roly Crichton said.

She followed this at night with a stunning 28.39s in the 50m butterfly, which was just 1/100th of a second outside her own world record set at this meet last year.

In other swims North Shore’s Laura Quilter edged US-based Canterbury swimmer Sophia Batchelor to win the 50m butterfly while Dunedin veteran Kurt Crosland won the men’s 50m backstroke.

Hind, who qualified for the relay earlier in the night, rushed home over the freestyle leg to win the 200m individual medley, while Australian-based North Shore swimmer, Shaun Burnett prevailed in the 200m butterfly in a close battle with Capital’s Isaac Foote.

The championships continue until Friday.

NZ Open Championships