Veteran pair lead New Zealand swimming team

MEDAL HAUL: Lauren Boyle has won five medals at major meets over the past month.
MEDAL HAUL: Lauren Boyle has won five medals at major meets over the past month.

It was the same old story for the New Zealand swim team - with the key word being ''old''.

Kiwi swimmers claimed four medals from the high-quality Pan Pacific Championships on Australia's Gold Coast that finished on Sunday.

Lauren Boyle was again the leading light for the NZ team that competed against top-class lineups from the United States, Australia, Japan and Canada over the four-day meet.

The North Shore freestyle expert won silver in the women's 800 and 1500 metres and bronze in the 400m final behind US superstar Katie Ledecky.

Glenn Snyders grabbed the country's other gong with a bronze in the men's 100m breaststroke while Corey Main, Matt Stanley and Mitchell Donaldson made A finals.

With the heat on the team after disappointing returns from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last month, the squad was again propped up by its stars.

The major concern then for Swimming New Zealand and its well-funded high performance programme is that Boyle is 26 and Snyders aged 27.

That places the programme in a precarious situation two years out from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, with few signs that there is the talent capable of bridging the gap with the duo who can regularly compete with the world's best.

Boyle became only the sixth New Zealand swimmer to be a multiple medallist in the history of the Pan Pacs, with her third medal on Sunday night lifting her to second spot among all Kiwis - behind just Danyon Loader with four.

She backed up her 400m gold and 800m silver from Glasgow with strong showings at the Pan Pacs, even while being overshadowed by the phenomenal Ledecky.

The 17-year-old from Maryland smashed her own 1500m world record for the second time in three months, reducing her previous mark of 15 minutes 34.23 seconds to an incredible 15:28.36.

Ledecky also broke her own 400m freestyle world record at the meet and holds the 800m mark as well - a daunting thought for Boyle as she looks toward Rio.

''I am really happy to be on the podium three times here,'' Boyle said following her 1500m silver in 15:55.69.

''I knew Ledecky would be pretty much ahead of the field but I didn't want to race for second place,'' Boyle said.

''I need to be able to have some good speed at the front end of my races so it's been good to have a focus that I have been able to work on at this meet.

''I went out as hard as I could to try and stay in contact and it really hurt at the end. I felt more true to myself that I didn't just try to come second. It was a tough race. I knew it would be tough but I am happy with my effort.

''It's been a long campaign and I am happy with how it's worked out.''

Snyders missed a medal in his preferred 100m breaststroke event in Glasgow but the bronze last week has kept him in pursuit of success in Rio.

''It's been a long, long road,'' the California-based Snyders said of his international season.

''There's been a lot of travelling, from the US to Europe, to back home, then to here.

''These years building up to Rio are just stepping stones, I'll try to learn from the things I've done wrong ... look at things I can work on over the next two years,'' said Snyders, who wants to work on his speed in the latter stages of his races.

Main couldn't find the same promising form in Australia as he showed in Scotland but at 19 looks the only clear prospect capable of making a leap to elite status among the current crop.

''It sets me up for Rio, definitely,'' he said recently about his Games efforts.

''In the next two years I'll build more muscle and get stronger and faster.''


Waikato Times