Relaxed criteria gives swimmers experience
Swimming New Zealand's tough qualification stance for the Commonwealth Games will look glaringly contradictory when competition starts with a big Kiwi splash in Glasgow on Thursday.
Only six swimmers qualified for 10 individual events at the New Zealand Open champs held in Henderson in April.
Yet there will be 22 events in the 20th Commonwealth Games where New Zealand will field individual swimmers.
Six of those Kiwis will be in action on Thursday night (NZ time), when the six-day swimming programme begins at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre.
Lauren Boyle (200m freestyle, 400m free, 800m free), Glenn Snyders (100m and 200m breaststroke), Matthew Stanley (400m free), Corey Main (100m backstroke), Sophie Pascoe (para SM10 200m Individual Medley and SB9 100m breaststroke) and Nikita Howarth (para S8 100 freestyle) were the six that achieved qualifying standards for individual races for Glasgow in April.
But Swimming NZ also named three relay teams - although only one raced as a team during the qualifying event - and included a proviso that "swimmers may swim in other events for the Commonwealth Games" to their qualification guidelines.
The calculated approach may anger other sports that chose small teams to represent NZ in Glasgow that were required to meet exacting qualifying standards for the Games.
At Glasgow, Samantha Lucie-Smith will be New Zealand's busiest swimmer, despite initially just making the team in the two women's relay teams. In addition to the 4x100m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle events, Lucie-Smith has also been named to contest the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle events.
Dylan Dunlop-Barrett will swim in the 200m and 400m freestyle events despite only qualifying for the team as part of the men's 4x200m freestyle relay, while relay team members Emma Robinson and Samantha Lee will also swim two individual events.
The men's 4x200m freestyle relay team, and their women's counterparts, qualified by adding up the times of their individual performances in 200m freestyle races, with Swimming NZ calculating a qualifying time that also factored in takeover changes.
By allowing non-qualified individual members, Swimming New Zealand has clearly signified they want their young swimmers on the fringe of reaching international class to gain much-needed experience at a big international meet like the Commonwealth Games. Part of that is with an eye to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, while the more immediate proof in the pudding hoping to be the Pan Pacific Championships to be held in Australia in August.
"The rationale is that we started in 2009 with a small team, and we need to build that to Rio," said Swimming NZ high performance director Luis Villanueva.
"So we need to give the swimmers a chance to compete internationally, and the Commonwealth Games is an excellent opportunity. It is not as hard as it is at the world champs or the Olympics and in the middle of the Olympic cycle we can give them the opportunity to compete internationally, to proceed to semifinals and finals, get some experience and be better prepared in 2015 for the world champs in Kazan.
"I'm pretty sure that all of them, if they perform well, can proceed to semifinals and finals.
"So it's not that we've entered anyone with a time that is completely out of the field, so I think all of them can progress into the second round and have this experience that will be very worthwhile."
THE EXTRAS (events they qualified for in brackets):
Dylan Dunlop-Barrett 400m freestyle, 200m free (4x200m freestyle relay)
Matthew Stanley 200m free (400m free, 4x200m freestyle relay)
Corey Main 200m backstroke (100m back)
Glenn Synders 50m breaststroke (100, 200m breaststroke)
Samantha Lucie-Smith 100m free, 200m free, 400m free (4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100 freestyle relay)
Emma Robinson 200m free, 800m free (4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100 freestyle relay)
Samantha Lee 100m fly, 200m fly (4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100 freestyle relay)
Mitchell Donaldson 200m free, 200 individual medley (4x200m freestyle)
Laura Quilter 50m fly (4x100m freestyle relay)