Swimming: Relay team betters Games standard in final event

There was a fairytale finish to the New Zealand championships in Auckland last night when the women's 4x100m freestyle relay team bettered the Commonwealth Games standard in the final event.

The quartet of Samantha Lee, Samantha Lucie-Smith, Ellen Quirke and Laura Quilter clocked 3min 41.50sec in a special time trial which was a second inside the qualifying mark for Glasgow.

The quartet was the fastest four swimmers from the individual final earlier in the meeting and produced a time that is the second-fastest in the world this year.

It brought a massive climax to the championships and will mean New Zealand will send a 16-strong team to July's Commonwealth Games.

The team comprises 14 able-bodied swimmers, the same as for the Delhi games four years ago, along with para swimmers Sophie Pascoe and Nikita Howarth. The team was named by the New Zealand Olympic Committee at the conclusion of the championships.

The final night of competition proved a triple treat for Lauren Boyle.

The 26-year-old, a triple medallist in the world championships last year, claimed the 400m freestyle to complete a clean sweep of all three of her key freestyle races - the 200m, 400m and 800m.

After going under the mark for Glasgow in the morning, Boyle improved further to 4min 6.08sec. Wellington's Samantha Lucie-Smith was 6sec back in second and Capital clubmate Emma Robinson was third.

It was mission accomplished for Boyle after she came home early from altitude training with illness.

''I was really happy to qualify this morning, so I wanted to go faster. I try to go faster from qualifying to final especially at these open meets when there's not as much pressure,'' Boyle said.

''I was really relieved because I had a bout of some sickness three weeks ago. The beginning of the week I was relieved to swim well and now I am really happy to have qualified in the three individual events.''

Her fellow Swimming New Zealand High Performance Centre training partner, Nathan Capp, produced a solo performance to win the 1500m freestyle.

The Greerton club swimmer, who set the national record of 15min 22.83sec late last year, was chasing a tough qualifying time nearly 8sec faster last night.

He went through the halfway mark on schedule but was unable to keep up to the rigours of 61sec for each 100m, finishing in 15min 25.25sec. His dominance was such that he was 23sec clear of second-placed Michael Mincham (Waterhole, Auckland).

Para swimming star Sophie Pascoe claimed her second qualifying performance of the competition in winning the 100m breaststroke SB9 in 1min 19.09sec, more than 8sec inside the qualifying mark.

In other finals last night, United States-based Natasha Lloyd (North Canterbury) was too good in the 100m breaststroke in 1min 11.33sec and Sydney-based Mitchell Donaldson (North Shore) won the 200m individual medley in 2min 0.96sec, just over 1sec outside the qualifying mark for the Commonwealth Games.

Wellington's Samantha Lee (Capital) won the women's 200m butterfly in 2min 11.79sec. Nothing could separate Nielsen Varoy (West Auckland Aquatics) and Cameron Simpson (Templeton) when they dead-heated for first in the 50m freestyle in 23.04sec.

Youth was to the fore in the 200m backstroke, when 14-year-old Bobbi Gichard (Greendale) triumphed in 2min 15.52sec.


Commomwealth Games team
• Lauren Boyle: 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay
• Mitchell Donaldson: 4x200m freestyle
• Dylan-Dunlop Barrett: 4x200m freestyle relay
• Tash Hind: 4x200m freestyle relay
• Nikita Howarth: Para S8 100m freestyle
• Ewan Jackson: 4x200m freestyle relay
• Steven Kent: 4x200m freestyle relay
• Samantha Lee: 4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100 freestyle relay
• Samantha Lucie-Smith: 4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100 freestyle relay
• Corey Main: 100m backstroke
• Sophie Pascoe: Para S10 100m individual medley
• Laura Quilter: 4x100m freestyle relay
• Ellen Quirke: 4x100m freestyle relay
• Emma Robinson: 4x200m freestyle relay
• Matthew Stanley: 400m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay
• Glenn Snyders: 100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke  


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