Gareth Kean proves he's ready for London

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 08:12 30/03/2012
Gareth Kean
ROSS GIBLIN/The Dominion Post
SPLASHING TIME: Gareth Kean's backstroking class has shone through at the national swimming championships.

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Commonwealth Games silver medallist Gareth Kean has again shown why it is time he stepped onto swimming's biggest stage.

On a night when Kiwi swimming increased its guaranteed Olympic berths to 13 at the national championships in Auckland yesterday, 20-year-old backstroke sprinter Kean notched his second 2012 Olympic qualifying time, this time in the 200m.

It was more than a second inside the 200m London grade, and 0.2 of a second under his medal-winning time recorded at 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Kean backed-up a qualifying performance in the morning heat by posting 1min 57.15sec in the afternoon final, busting his own national record at West Wave Aquatic Centre in Waitakere.

Kean has bettered the qualifying time in both the 100m and 200m backstroke where his times this week have him as the fifth fastest and third fastest respectively, in the world this year.

"I was overly confident going into the 100m having qualified numerous times. So coming into this meet the 200m was the key so I could go to London in more than one race," Kean said.

"Doing the 200m in London will make the 100m back a lot easier. There's going to be a lot more training and distance work to swim the 200 which will hopefully rub off on the 100.

"With all the skills I have worked on in the last year which has made the 100 so special now, so hopefully those skills with then transfer into improving the 200. I'd like to be competitive and some good times will come in both of them in London."

On a good night for New Zealand swimming, Lauren Boyle impressed, going under the qualifying mark in the 800m freestyle and nailing her third individual Olympic time of the regatta after success in the 400m and 200m freestyle.

Boyle clocked 8min 28.15sec to win the 800m in a virtual solo display, just outside her own national record in what has been a major workload this week.

"I was really pleased with that. I've raced every day and produced consistently good and fast performances in the morning heats and in the finals," Boyle said.

"I had not raced for so long so it was a bit unknown really. But with about 17 weeks now to London I think I am in a great place.

"It's exciting g to qualify in three events. Overall I am most excited about my 400m race here and I will sit down with my coach and see what we attack in London. The schedule is not as demanding as here so that will be great."

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Boyle should also feature in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay in London.

As for the women's 4x100m freestyle relay team, they went under the target of 12th fastest time in the world - based on last year's world championships - and now await an Olympic invitation from world body Fina in June - invites reserved for the remaining four fastest nations not yet qualified.

And, it's not over for US-based, Boyle who competes in the 1500m freestyle this morning and also the 2.8km King of the Bays ocean swim tomorrow.

The event was sealed with a fine performance from the quartet of Natasha Hind, Penelope Marshall, Amaka Gessler and Hayley Palmer in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay.

They clocked 3:41.10 which was two seconds under the 12th time in the world from last year, which was the selection target.

The quartet broke their own New Zealand record by a second, set winning silver in Delhi two years ago.

"It was great out there tonight. To achieve this when we have had three races in a day and only an hour between the last two was outstanding," Palmer said.

"We are all good friends and train together so we know if we get the chance that we can go much faster in London."

North Canterbury 16-year-old Natasha Lloyd completed an outstanding championship with a clean sweep of all breaststroke national titles, claiming the 200m, while North Shore's Mitchell Donaldson took charge on the breaststroke leg to take out the 200m individual medley in 2:02.28.

The number of individuals under Olympic qualifying marks remains at seven but has increased across 13 events with along with the women's 4x200m freestyle relay.

The men's 4x200 freestyle and women's 4x100m freestyle relay teams are also hopeful of invitations.

Today's final night of finals features the men's and women's 50m freestyle, both Olympic qualifying events, and the official first naming of swimming's 2012 Olympic team.

- Stuff

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