California dreaming for Glenn Snyders

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 10/03/2013
Glenn Snyders
Fairfax NZ
TOUGH SWIM: Glenn Snyders in the semifinal of the men’s 100m breaststroke at the London Olympics last year. He finished 7th and failed to qualify.

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New Zealand's best male swimmer is exploring a permanent move overseas after the last three months have refreshed Glenn Snyders' push for an Olympic medal.

Since shifting to America to be part of a top breaststroke programme operated through the University of Southern California, Snyders' move has been so positive he's looking to stay in Los Angeles for the remainder of the Olympic cycle to Rio 2016.

With no other world-class breaststroke swimmers to train with in New Zealand, Snyders, 25, has returned to Auckland only for next Sunday's start of the national championships - which double as qualifying for July's world championships in Barcelona. And while he's looking to just squeeze under qualifying times next week, Snyders says the real fruit can be picked further down the line with a long-term stay in California under Dave Salo - coach of a number of Olympic champions.

"I've moved into a new programme and am trying to adjust to everything that Los Angeles brings, a new lifestyle and a new intensity in training.

"It was a move to refresh myself for the next four years." Snyders said.

"The past three months over there have really opened my eyes to things I've been missing out on.

"I've known the coach [Salo] for quite a while and he's a world-class breaststroke coach. But also the quality of breaststrokers already there is also a positive move. For the past couple of years I've had no breaststroke partners in New Zealand.

"It's been something I've wanted to do for a while and was all about finding the right time.

"It's going really well but I'm still adjusting, physically and mentally, to what's been a big change to my programme. I'm confident, and though I'm not sure where I am at the moment in terms of times, I'm excited to race again next weekend and it's good to see a few old faces too.

"The main goal at the nationals is to dip under world championship qualifying and go back to LA and train to get ready for that meet. The minimum I want to do at the world championships is make a final and I'm aiming towards a medal in Rio."

On his day, the two-time Olympian and 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist is capable of that lofty challenge.

What's often proven his downfall is consistency and reproducing fast morning sessions when it comes to evening finals.

Snyders' 100m heat time would have placed him fifth in the London 2012 final, but he struggled to follow-up in the semifinals and was eliminated early.

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If Salo can help build consistency, New Zealand will have two genuine Olympic medal prospects in the pool at Rio 2016 with Snyders joining world short course freestyle champion Lauren Boyle.

Both athletes would also have had their careers heavily shaped by multiple-year stints in American college programmes, with Boyle a graduate of the esteemed University of California, Berkeley.

- Sunday Star Times

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