Lauren Boyle's world record time challenged

Last updated 05:00 12/08/2014

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Lauren Boyle's world record 1500m swim in Wellington on Saturday is under the spotlight because of an alleged current in the Kilbirnie Pool.

The man making the claim is David Wright, former coach of Toni Jeffs, who operates the Swimwatch website.

Wright is a constant thorn in Swimming New Zealand's side and yesterday produced unofficial split times on Boyle's short course swim which appear to show swimming in one direction at the Wellington Aquatic Centre is faster than the other.

Being a short course meet, the 1500m swim event comprised 60 laps, with Boyle's odd numbered laps taking on average 15.09sec and the evens 15.66sec. That's a discrepancy of 0.5 7 seconds.

Swimming New Zealand only recorded Boyle's end time of 15min 22.68sec, more than four seconds under Mareia Belmonte Garcia's previous world record mark set at the Spanish Short Course Championships last year.

Wright claims he had a former New Zealand coach, who he will not name, record Boyle's 25m splits from the grandstand on Saturday evening and feed the times to him.

With the human touch came human error, with laps four, five and six of Boyle's exceptional swim not being timed. Wellington swimming officials would not comment on the attack on their pool but Swimming New Zealand high performance coach Luis Villanueva and SNZ chief executive Christian Renford were more forthcoming.

Both questioned the reliability, accuracy and credibility of the information Wright produced and both expect Boyle's world record to stand, though the final say will come down to the world swimming body, Fina.

Villanueva, a former Spanish coach, made the valid point that a current doesn't advantage a swimmer. "It might help you in one direction but it hinders you in the other," he said.

Villanueva added that pool currents exist at some of the world's most elite venues.

"It shouldn't happen, but it happened at last year's world championships in Barcelona.

"This is up to Fina, they will decide what to do. There were some world records broken last year in Barcelona and the records were sanctioned."

Renford was sceptical about the reliability of hand timing from the grandstand, saying hand timing needed to be done from pool deck. He defended the absence of touch pads at each end of the pool on Saturday, saying the meet (Wellington winter short course championships) did not warrant them.

To Renford's knowledge there isn't a tool to measure pool current but he wonders if that might change given the attention drawn to Barcelona and to a lesser extent at the Glasgow pool for the Commonwealth Games.

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Wright wants heads to roll at SNZ if Boyle's record is ruled invalid.

He claims the real reason lap times weren't taken on Saturday was because it would show the pool in bad light.

"The table below (see attached graphic) gives you a world exclusive look into each of Lauren Boyle's 25-metre times and shows clearly the effect the Wellington pool had on her performance; an effect that is in huge violation of Fina rules," Wright wrote.

"On average Boyle took 0.57 of a second longer to swim into the current than with the current; an average variation of 3.6 per cent per length. And still they claim there is no appreciable current.

"Those officials and employees responsible for this fiasco should pack their personal belongings and leave the sport immediately."

Boyle could not be reached for comment.

- The Dominion Post

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