Lauren Boyle drops 200m to focus on 800m
Top New Zealand swimmer Lauren Boyle withdrew from the 200m freestyle at the Pan Pacific Championships today to concentrate on a major showdown overnight instead.
Boyle, the 800m world short course champion and 400m Commonwealth Games champion, was down to race in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m across the important four-day meet - held every four years and featuring full-strength teams from the United States and Australia.
However, as expected, and just as she did at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the leading Kiwi decided to withdraw from the morning's 200m freestyle heats - to also skip an overnight final - and allow herself to concentrate solely on the 800m freestyle final overnight.
The 800m is by far a more favoured event for Boyle - who is preparing to go up against American 17-year-old sensation Katie Ledecky, the Olympic champion and world record holder informally known as ''the female Phelps''.
Rarely does Boyle get a chance to benchmark herself against Ledecky, who is by far the best long-distance female swimmer in the world, but with the Aucklander in good form the next four days promise to be a revealing litmus test - midway through an Olympic cycle.
Also overnight, Matamata's Matt Stanley will race in the 200m freestyle final, having squeezed in on the last qualifying place.
Stanley started strongly in the final heat of the 200m freestyle going through 100m in 52.79s, but apparently struggled with the windy, open-air conditions of the new outdoor pool in Southport.
While disappointed with his time of 1:48.74, he said reaching the final was the main objective
''I qualified that's the main thing although the swim was not as good as I had wanted. It was tough out there with windy conditions although it's the same for everyone,'' Stanley said.
''I am pleased to have the opportunity for another crack at the best tonight.''
Elsewhere, on a decent first session this morning for New Zealand at the Gold Coast meet, Steven Kent, produced a personal best time of 1:49.00 and featured in a ''B'' final of the 200m freestyle overnight along with Dunlop-Barrett (1:50.01) who managed to better his Commonwealth Games time.
Also to earn a ''B'' final swim tonight is Samantha Lucie-Smith - 35/100ths of a second off the A final in the 200m freestyle.
''I found that hard. I always find the first swim of any meet tough but here it was my key event. But I have a chance to swim it again tonight,'' Lucie-Smith said.
Finally, Corey Main was a second outside his Glasgow 2014 time in the 100m backstroke with 55.36s and Samantha Lee posted 2:13.85 in the 200m butterfly.