Sophie Pascoe Breaks Paralympic World Record At New Zealand Open

Sophie Pascoe
Photo Courtesy: Andrew Fielding/USA Today Sports

Despite losing their high performance director earlier this month, New Zealand swimming appears to be performing well based on times posted on the first day of the New Zealand Open.

Six swimmers qualified for the FINA world championships on the first day. That’s one more swimmer than the total number of Kiwis who attended the 2013 worlds, so after one day of competition, New Zealand has exceeded its number from the last world championships.

The highlight of the session came in the disabled swimming competition. Sophie Pascoe, a superstar in the Paralympic swimming community, was one of six to earn selection to this year’s IPC world championships. Pascoe broke her Paralympic world record of 1:03.95 in the 100 fly for the S10 division with a 1:03.72. She returned to win the 200 IM with a 2:26.93, not far off her world record of 2:25.65.

Triple world championship medalist Lauren Boyle was on point in the 400 free with a 4:06.13, putting herself ninth in the world with potential to move up the rankings through the summer. She didn’t coast through the prelims, swimming a 4:06.25. Emma Robinson earned her first world championship berth with a 4:11.32, a drop of nearly three seconds on her lifetime best.

Glenn Snyders, who made the final of the 50 breast at the 2013 worlds, cruised to a 1:00.35 to win the 100 breaststroke. Snyders trains with the Trojan Swim Club in Los Angeles, and wasn’t too far off the 1:00.22 he swam in 2013 to place 13th at worlds, and the 1:00.18 that earned him a bronze at last year’s Pan Pacific championships.

Another top New Zealander training outside his home country, Matthew Stanley, continues to impress and won the men’s 400 free with a 3:50.73. That’s three seconds off his national record, but the Australia-based Stanley got under the FINA “A” qualifying time to earn his spot on the roster. Stanley didn’t win the race, though, placing second to Michael Dai and his 3:50.64. Dai has moved to New Zealand and is seeking to switch sports citizenship from China after representing that country at the 2012 Olympics. Dai was part of China’s bronze medal-winning 800 free relay in 2012, but has not received approval from FINA to switch nationalities. His 400 free swim gives New Zealand the promise of two representatives in the event in the Olympics next year.

One of the biggest surprises of the session came in the men’s 200 IM, where Bradlee Ashby posted a 2:00.76 to win by almost four seconds and challenge Dean Kent’s eight-year-old national record of 2:00.30. Ashby’s best before the meet was 2:03.28 to mark a major improvement for the 19-year-old. He earns his first world championship berth, and his first world ranking, placing 20th globally so far in 2015. Though he missed the FINA “A” standard of 1:59.99, his time is good enough to make him the sole representative on the team in the event.

Corey Main, who swam for the University of Florida a few weeks ago at the NCAA championships, will also swim at the world championships thanks to a 54.41 in the 100 backstroke. It’s not his best time, but it was under the FINA automatic qualifying time.

2015 New Zealand Open – Results