New Zealander Matt Hutchins Claims Olympic Spot at Canadian Trials

Matthew Hutchins during the New Zealand Open Swimming Championships, Westwave Aquatic Centre, Henderson, Auckland, Tuesday 14 April 2015. Photo: Simon Watts/
Photo Courtesy: Simon Watts/ New Zealand

By Dave Crampton

Two more New Zealand swimmers have gone under the qualifying standard for the Rio Olympics during the first three days of the Canadian Olympic Trials in Toronto.

Thirteen New Zealanders are competing at the second official trial for New Zealand swimmers to meet the qualifying times to be considered for the Rio Olympics.  

They are competing at the Canadian trials because last month’s NCAA championships were scheduled concurrently with New Zealand’s Olympic qualifying competition. The nations worked out an agreement allowing New Zealand swimmers competing collegiately in U.S. to use the Canadian event as an alternative qualifying event.

Matt Hutchins, on scholarship at the University of Wisconsin and Corey Main (Florida) both join the NZ roster.  Hutchins clocked 3:49.84 in his heat of the 400m freestyle before winning the B final in 3:52.12 for his second swim under the selection standard. It was the second fastest time recorded in finals.

“Being able to swim under 3:50 in the morning took so much pressure off myself. I wanted to go faster tonight but to do two times under the qualifying is pleasing,” he said.

“It hasn’t fully sunk in yet, but I`m sure once I get back to Madison and take a step back and look at it I`ll appreciate this even more. It’s obviously a huge honor for me to represent my country.”

Second in the B Final was Georgia-based Kevin Litherland, who qualified for the trials along with his brother Mick. Their father is a New Zealander. Their brother Jay – they are triplets – will compete at the US Trials.

Kevin Litherland finished in 3:50.71, just outside the FINA A standard of 3:50:40.

Hutchins also swam in the 200m freestyle on Tuesday and finished fifth in the B Final with a time of 1:50.84. He is scheduled to swim in the 1500m freestyle on Saturday.

“My stroke is designed for long distance so having done a good time in the 400 is always a good confidence-boost going into the 1500 later this week,” he said.

Earlier, Main was the first New Zealander to go under the 100m backstroke time, clocking 54.27, under the qualifying time of 54.36. The fastest swimmer at the New Zealand trials in Auckland was Cornielle Coetzee with 55.88. His brother Wilrich Coetzee won that final in 56.03.

Hutchins’ swim bring the tally of New Zealand swimmers who have achieved the FINA A standard to eight swimmers in 10 events so far.