Emma Robinson's record-breaking 1500m freestyle swim won't be the most talked about of the Wellington Long Course Championships, but it might be the most significant.
The chatter out of the Kilbirnie Aquatic Centre yesterday centred on the classy 200m women's freestyle where Samantha Lucie-Smith pipped Olympic relay teammate Tash Hind.
And there was a buzz about Samantha Lee's excellent effort in breaking her own Wellington Open record in the 50m butterfly by .09s in a time of 27.60s.
Combined with Gareth Kean's pleasingly quick 100m back stroke comeback time of 55.15, and fellow London Olympic swimmer Steven Kent's dominant showing in clocking 1.51.80s in the 200m freestyle, it made for a quality Sunday session.
However, Robinson's continuing progression shouldn't be understated after she knocked 4s off a 10-year-old New Zealand 18-years age group record in the 1500m freestyle.
Her time of 16m 54.30s smashed the previous Wellington age grade record for the distance by 43s, but, more importantly, continued a steep upward curve for an 18-year-old who qualified for the World Championships in the 10km open water swim last week.
Her Capital coach Gary Hurring is thrilled to see Robinson's hard work coming to fruition.
"She very determined, one of the most tenacious athletes I've worked with in her drive to get to the top," he said. "She sets high standards and follows through and its nice to see the results starting to happen . . . a lot of stuff is coming together and she's reaping the rewards, but its only stage one in I think a long career."
Robinson's task in her first year out of Wellington East College is now is to work out exactly how to approach it as she comes to grips with a sudden elevation to the elite in the longer distances.
She hasn't given up on her specialist freestyle pool events of 400m and 800m, but admits her most recent successes are likely to steer her toward the open water discipline.
"Qualifying for the worlds [in Taupo last weekend] caught me by surprise," she said. "I didn't really go in hoping to qualify for worlds. It was just to swim well and see what I could do.
"It was only my second attempt at that distance and last year I did it off three days training. This time I trained a lot harder and swum through Christmas.
"I thought my [future] was in pool swimming at 400m and 800m but now it's all a bit up in the air. I'm not sure what to train for, but I'll have to focus on the 10km now. Hopefully I'll be able to swim in the pool there [at the world champs] too."
Robinson will combine part-time study in commerce at Victoria University this year with her training ahead of the World Championships in Barcelona in August.
The Wellington Long Course Championships wrap up today with all four Olympic swimmers, Hind, Lucie-Smith, Kean and Kent in action.
- The Dominion Post
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