Kiwi swimmers set new marks in China
The decision by top Kiwi swimmers Glenn Snyders and Lauren Boyle to stay in China rather than return home to New Zealand after the recently completed world championships in Shanghai has already paid dividends.
Within the space of 30 minutes in the early hours of yesterday morning at the World University Games in Shenzhen, southern China, the pair broke New Zealand records on their way to gold medals in the pool.
While they might not be well known in New Zealand, the University Games features nearly 8000 athletes and includes two Olympic champions.
In the men's 200m breaststroke final, Snyders shared the gold medal with Lithuania's Giedrius Titenis in a dead heat after setting a New Zealand record time of 2:10.85 before Boyle continued New Zealand's winning streak with another top-placed finish in the women's 800m freestyle final.
Like Snyders, Boyle's first-place also came with the setting of a new New Zealand record after she won her race in a time of 8:26.30. Gareth Kean then capped off the night with a third place in the men's 200m backstroke final.
Boyle said she had been inspired by Snyders' gold medal swim, which took place only moments before her own.
Boyle finished eighth in the same event at the recent world championships in Shanghai.
After graduating from the University of California in May where she was forced to juggle training commitments with her studies, Boyle has spent the last two months working in the pool.
She intends to continue with a full-time programme right through to the London Olympics next year, but admitted a scheduled wisdom tooth extraction when she returns home will keep her out of the pool for at least a week.
"I've had a full-on time lately. I finished my degree in the middle of May so I've just been swimming for the last two months," Boyle said.
"It's been really nice to just do one thing.
"I'm going to put swimming first for the next year and see what happens.
"I'll have a few days off now to get my wisdom teeth removed. That will take me out of the water for about a week or two maybe."
For Snyders, the strong result, which also happened to be just New Zealand's second ever gold in the pool at the Universiade, was another stepping stone towards next year's Olympics.
"I feel like I'm in great shape at the moment and after this maybe I will have a little break before getting back into my Olympic preparation."
Kean, a silver medallist at last year's Commonwealth Games, couldn't quite match his team-mates but was happy to settle for bronze with a time of 1:58.74, especially after he finished last in the heat of his specialist 200m event in Shanghai last month.
"It's not a bad result and it's a lot better than I swam at the world champs after I bombed out in the heat," he said.
"I'm just happy that I'm doing a decent time again. Obviously it wasn't as good as last year, though.
"I decided to come to Shenzhen as another chance to cement whatever I did at the worlds. I think I'm kind of starting to do that and better myself.
"I've been in China for over four weeks now. It's getting a little weary now but I'm still putting out the good swims and that's what matters."