31 Mar 2016

Boyle does it again

12:21 pm on 31 March 2016

Lauren Boyle has won the 400 metres freestyle title at the New Zealand Open Swimming Championships in Auckland and recorded a Rio Olympic qualifying standard.

New Zealand swimmer Lauren Boyle.

New Zealand swimmer Lauren Boyle. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Bradlee Ashby and Helena Gasson both met the qualifying standard in the 200m individual medley and 100m butterfly respectively.

It brought the New Zealand tally to five swimmers who have met the Olympic standard in six events after three days.

Boyle had earlier gone under the qualifying mark in the 800 freestyle.

After slipping slightly over the time in the morning heats, Boyle clocked 4:08.28 to be nearly one second under the Olympic qualifying standard. With her build-up compromised with illness in January, Boyle was satisfied to get both qualifying marks under her belt.

"I thought I was going a bit faster than I was so I am not that pleased with the time but it is always good to be on the team and do the qualifying time, so I am happy with that," Boyle said.

"The qualifying time is quite a way off my best but I've had a broken build-up to this competition so I hope I can have a clear run now to Rio."

There was plenty to celebrate with 20 year old Ashby and 21 year old Gasson who both went under the qualifying mark.

Ashby, from the Fairfield club but now at Swimming New Zealand's high performance centre, clocked 2:00:00 in the heats to not only go under the Olympic qualifying time in the 200m individual medley, but claim the 2007 New Zealand record set by Dean Kent.

The lanky Ashby, coached by Clive Power, reset to go under the two minute barrier with a 1:59.76 to lower the national record again in the final.

"My coach challenged me to step up again tonight and try to break that two minute barrier and it worked out," Ashby said.

'I didn't have the stress of having to qualify so it was a matter of putting my head down and give that two minutes a crack."

"Any of those big barriers are more a mental thing than a physical thing but now I've gone under it then anything can happen from here."

Not to be outdone, Gasson took more than a second off her previous best in a time of 58.66 in the heat of the 100m butterfly to go under the qualifying time by 8/100ths of a second and break the previous national record set by Sophia Batchelor four years ago.

Waiting for the final individual event of the night, Gasson stepped up to lower that mark again to 58.51s in an impressive performance, before turning around to compete in the freestyle relay for her North Shore club.

Gasson, who has swum at clubs in Thames and Fairfield, made the bold move to North Shore club under coach Thomas Ansorg last year in a serious bid for international selection.

"I took a while to believe what I've done and still going through that process but it is my dream and I am just so glad I get to live my dream," said Gasson.

Earlier Howick Pakuranga sprinter Daniel Hunter came within a blink of also reaching the qualifying standard in both the heat and the final of the 50m freestyle.

The 21 year old clocked 22.31s to be only 4/100ths of a second outside the qualifying mark in the heat but better the 2008 national record of 22.37 of Beijing Olympian Orinoco Fa'amausili-Banse. Hunter pushed hard again in the final to win but came up just short in 22.41.

Paralympic stars Sophie Pascoe and Mary Fisher continued to produce world class performances in their Rio qualifying bids.

Both went under the nomination standard in both heats and finals in both the 50m freestyle and 200m individual medley where Pascoe was only a second outside her world record clocking 2:26.87.

Te Awamutu's Nikita Howarth also went under the nomination time for Rio in the 200m individual medley in 2:57.90, as did Chris Arbuthnott (Icebreaker) in the 50m freestyle S9and Hamish McLean (Wanaka) SM6 in the 200m individual medley to complete another impressive day for the Para-Swimmers.