Lauren Boyle, Emma Robinson Post Olympic Qualifying Times in New Zealand

Lauren Boyle (R) and Emma Robinson embrace after qualifying for the Rio Olympics in the 800m freestyle during the New Zealand Open Swimming Championships, Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. Monday 28 March 2016 Photo: Simon Watts /
Photo Courtesy: Simon Watts/BW Media

By Dave Crampton

New Zealand freestylers Lauren Boyle and Emma Robinson both went under the qualifying time for the Rio 2016 Olympics on the opening night of New Zealand Open Swimming Championships in Auckland, which double as trials for Rio.

Boyle clocked 8:25.00, the fourth fastest time in the world this year, also dragging Robinson through, nearly three seconds under the qualifying mark, a personal best at 8:31.27.  Both currently train at the Gold Coast in Australia and were only two of three current New Zealand swimmers to have swum under this year’s Rio A qualifying marks in the past year.

Robinson said she was in form, but having Boyle in front assisted.

“I tried to sit on Lauren’s feet for the longest time that I could,” she said.  “I knew I had to give it all in that last 100m and my legs were gone by that stage – but this is great.”

While Boyle wanted a competitive time – splitting 4:09.36 at the half – she was also keen to help Robinson to Rio.

“I really wanted Emma to qualify. She is such a good training partner. It’s so good to see her improving every year and getting closer to me.

Twenty-one year old Helena Gasson lowered her own national 200m butterfly record to 2:09.64 in the heats, half a second outside the Rio qualifying mark, but couldn’t reduce it further in the final.

However, four para-swimmers went under the Paralympic target times. Hamish McLean clocked 5:28.16 in the S6 category in the 400m freestyle, while eight-time world champion Mary Fisher (5:23.76) and Rebecca Dubber (5:39.04) went within the times for S11 and S7 categories respectively in the women’s event.

Nikita Howarth edged under the qualifying mark by 0.3 seconds in a time of 1:29.37 in the women’s 100m breaststroke.

Los Angeles-based Glenn Snyders won the 50m breaststroke national title, for the 12th time, in 27.34, but is focused on the longer events later this week.

Most other U.S. based New Zealand swimmers elected to compete at the Canadian trials from April 5 as the New Zealand trials commenced just 48 hours after the men’s NCAA.

The New Zealand trials conclude on Friday.

Swimming New Zealand contributed to this report.