New Zealand's Lauren Boyle sees a silver lining in swimming behind Katie Ledecky
Lauren Boyle should be swimming for silver again next year at the Olympics - but that won't dampen her enthusiasm.
The veteran New Zealand freestyle specialist won her second silver medal of the world championships meet in Kazan, Russia, on Sunday morning (NZ time) behind teen sensation Katie Ledecky of the United States in the women's 800m final.
READ MORE: Boyle claims silver in 800m final
Ledecky smashed her own world record as she claimed her fourth gold medal of the champs and she's already a massively prohibitive favourite to win freestyle gold over 200m, 400m and 800m at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
But Boyle, who worked out a race plan that virtually excluded Ledecky so she could claim silver in Kazan, said she's happy with her lot.
"It's not a great mindset to go in knowing or thinking that she's going to be really far ahead," she said of the 18-year-old who was over 10 seconds quicker than Boyle.
"But in past events that has happened, so I don't lose confidence if that happens - if that makes sense.
"For me, I usually swim my best races when I'm totally involved with my own race and I'm not really focussing on what anybody else is doing."
It was Boyle's fifth world championship gong - she won silver in the 1500m freestyle earlier this week and three bronze in Barcelona in 2013 - meaning the 27-year-old Aucklander now has half of the 10 medals New Zealand swimmers have won at the championships over more than 40 years.
The result also gave Boyle another massive boost towards the 2016 Rio Olympics, with the 800m the longest race on the women's programme at the Games.
Ledecky smashed her own world record when winning in eight minute 07.39 seconds - nearly two seconds inside her previous mark - and became the first person to win four freestyle titles from 200m to 1500m at the same world championship.
"What Katie Ledecky is doing for the sport is amazing and I think it helps all of us swimmers open our minds to what is possible," Boyle said.
"I was really happy with my performance, it's fantastic to get another medal - especially silver and also really with a personal best time for me and a New Zealand record, which is amazing,"
Boyle led the rest of the field by two seconds at the halfway stage, pursued by Jaz Carlin (Great Britain) - who beat her at last year's Commonwealth Games at this distance - Jessica Ashwood (Australia) and Lotte Friis (Denmark). Boyle held on to claim silver in 8:17.65, taking a a second off her own New Zealand record while also landing the Oceania record - with Carlin taking bronze in 8:18:15.
Boyle's race plan was hatched with her coach Denis Cotterell at their Gold Coast training base with help from New Zealand coach Graeme Laing.
"I knew that I'd have to go out pretty strong to stay ahead of some of the other girls in the race," she said.
"I was pretty happy that I was reasonably close to Ledecky about halfway through, and then just tried to keep going from there. Luckily I had enough left on the last lap but it was quite close so I guess the plan worked out pretty well."
Boyle acknowledged she was nicely on track to chase an Olympic medal - one she's been seeking since finishing fourth in the 800m final at the 2012 London Games.
"I'm really not sure what else I can do - I hope I can do more and I think that I probably can.
"I think I can swim faster than I have, but I think it's all about doing that in the right situation and having the preparation that will allow that.
"With a year to Rio, I'm grateful for the position I'm now in terms of my ranking and my times and I'll be doing everything I can over the next year to improve. I think it's an exciting time to be swimming."
Boyle will contest a World Cup meet at the weekend in Paris before returning home for a break, with training likely to recommence with Cotterell on the Gold Coast in early September
Women's 800m freestyle: Katie Ledecky (USA) 8:07:39, 1 (World record); Lauren Boyle (NZL) 8:17:65, 2 (NZ & Oceania Record); Jaz Carlin (GBR) 8:18:15, 3.
AT A GLANCE
New Zealand's World Championship medals (10):
Silver: Gary Hurring (200m backstroke, Berlin 1978), Anthony Mosse (200m butterfly, Madrid 1986), Danyon Loader (200m butterfly, Rome 1994), Lauren Boyle (800m freestyle & 1500m freestyle, Kazan 2015).
Bronze: Danyon Loader (200m freestyle & 400m freestyle, Rome 1994), Lauren Boyle (400m freestyle, 800m freestyle & 1500m freestyle, Barcelona 2013).