State New Zealand Swim Championships: Gareth Kean Lowers National Record

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, March 29.WELINGTON 20 year old Gareth Kean has signalled he wants to be a force to be reckoned with in the London Olympics after an impressive qualifying performance on the penultimate night of finals at the State New Zealand Swimming Championships in Auckland tonight.

The Capital club swimmer, coached by Gary Hurring, followed up a qualifying performance in the morning heat by breaking his New Zealand record in the 200m backstroke at the event that doubles as the Olympic Trials at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Waitakere.

He clocked 1:57.15 to better the New Zealand record he set at the 2010 Commonwealth Games by 0.2 seconds and was more than a second inside the qualifying mark.

Kean sparked an outstanding night of racing with Lauren Boyle going under the qualifying mark in the 800m freestyle in a strong and controlled performance — her third qualifying event of the meet along with the 400m and 200m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay.

The women's 4x100m freestyle relay team went under the target of 12th fastest time in the world based on last year's world championships and will await FINA selection in June for one of the remaining four fastest nations for London.

Kean has bettered the qualifying time in both the 100m and 200m backstroke where his times this week have him as the fifth fastest and third fastest respectively in the world to date this year.

“I was overly confident going into the 100m having qualified numerous times. So coming into this meet the 200m was the key so I could go to London in more than one race.

“Doing the 200m in London will make the 100m back a lot easier. There's going to be a lot more training and distance work to swim the 200 which will hopefully rub off on the 100.

“With all the skills I have worked on in the last year which has made the 100 so special now, so hopefully those skills with then transfer into improving the 200. I'd like to be competitive and some good times will come in both of them in London.

He eased through the 100m in 57.21 and the 150m in 1:27.40 with Auckland's Kurt Bassett on his wake pushing to also go under the mark. Bassett from the High Performance Centre managed a personal best 1:58.69 but was 21/100ths of a second over the qualifying time.

“It would have been great to have both of us go under. Kurt is a fantastic swimmer and after his break he is getting faster and faster and so close. But next year he will be right there which is great for backstroke in New Zealand,” said Kean.

Boyle clocked 8:28.15 to win the 800m in a virtual solo display, just outside her own national record in what has been a major workload this week.

“I was really pleased with that. I've raced every day and produced consistently good and fast performances in the morning heats and in the finals,” said Boyle.

“I had not raced for so long so it was a bit unknown really. But with about 17 weeks now to London I think I am in a great place.

“It's exciting g to qualify in three events. Overall I am most excited about my 400m race here and I will sit down with my coach and see what we attack in London. The schedule is not as demanding as here so that will be great.”

It's not over for Boyle who wills wim the 1500m freestyle tomorrow morning and the 2.8km State King of the Bays ocean swim on Saturday.

The event was sealed with a fine performance from the quartet of Tash Hind, Penelope Marshall, Amaka Gessler and Hayley Palmer in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay.

They clocked 3:41.10 which was two seconds under the 12th time in the world from last year, which was the selection target. With 12 teams qualified, FINA will invite the next four fastest nations after the qualifying period finishes on June 4.

The quartet broke their own New Zealand record by a second, set in winning the silver medal at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

“It was great out there tonight. To achieve this when we have had three races in a day and only an hour between the last two was outstanding,” said Palmer.

“We are all good friends and train together so we know if we get the chance that we can go much faster in London.”

Marshall, who has had an impressive championship, led the way to claim the national title in 55.54 seconds ahead of Auckland-based American Rhi Jeffrey. Behind her were Hind (55.86), Palmer (56.02) and Gessler (56.38).

North Canterbury 16-year-old Natasha Lloyd completed an outstanding championship with a clean sweep of all breaststroke national titles, claiming the 200m title tonight in 2:30.67, only 12/100ths of a second outside the national record.

North Shore's Mitchell Donaldson took charge on the breaststroke leg to take out the 200m individual medley in impressive fashion clocking 2:02.28 from Ashton Baumann and Steven Kent in a North Shore clean sweep.–

The number of individuals under the qualifying time remains at seven in 13 performances along with the women's 4x200m freestyle relay while the men's 4×200 freestyle and women's 4x100m freestyle relay teams will await a FINA invitation in June.

Tomorrow's final night of finals features the men's and women's 50m freestyle, both Olympic qualifying events.

Results of day five finals at the State New Zealand Swimming championships
at West Wave Aquatic Centre, Waitakere:

Women 100m freestyle: Penelope Marshall (HPC-North Shore) 55.54, 1; Rhi
Jeffrey (West Auckland Aquatics) 55.65, 2; Tash Hind (HPC-Captial) 55.86, 3;
Hayley Palmer (North Shore) 56.02, 4; Amaka Gessler (HPC-Motueka) 56.38, 5.

Men 200m backstroke: Gareth Kean (WRHPC-Capital) 1:57.15, 1 (Olympic
Qualifier & NZ Record); Kurt Bassett (HPC-Laser Mt Eden) 1:58.69, 2; Corey
Main (Howick Pakuranga) 2:01.54, 3.

Women 200m breaststroke: Natasha Lloyd (North Canterbury) 2:30.67, 1; Becki
Dooley (Jasi) 2:36.28, 2; Stephanie Bennington (WRHPC-Capital) 2:37.82, 3.

Men 200m individual medley: Mitchell Donaldson (HPC-North Shore) 2:02.28,
1; Ashton Baumann (North Shore) 2:04.10, 2; Steven Kent (HPC-North Shore)
2:04.92, 3.

Women 800m freestyle relay: Lauren Boyle (HPC-North Shore) 8:28.15, 1; Cara
Baker (Howick Pakuranga) 8:38.82, 2; Tabitha Baumann (North Shore) 8:47.65,
3.

Women 4x100m freestyle relay: New Zealand (Tash Hind, Penelope Marshall,
Amaka Gessler, Hayley Palmer) 3:41.10 (NZ Record). Capital Swim Club (Ellen
Quirke, Samantha Lee, Emma Robinson, Samantha Lucie-Smith) 3:53.18, 1; North
Shore Swimming (Grace Francis, Chloe Francis, Tirol Palmer, Danielle Koni)
3:55.54, 2. North Shore Swimming (Hayley Kim, Bianca Rowley, Hayley Edmond,
Michelle Kinney) 4:00.85, 3.

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