Leading swimmers grab Comm Games places

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 20:42 08/04/2014

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New Zealand's elite swimmers have grabbed automatic spots for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow tonight.

Matthew Stanley, Lauren Boyle and Glenn Snyders all scored wins on the opening night of finals at the New Zealand Open swimming champs in Auckland to grab places in the national team for Scotland later this year.

Boyle was joined by three others as part of a women's 4x200m relay team as the Games squad gained some substance on the first of four days of racing.

Stanley set the night off in fine style, winning the men's 400m freestyle final while going under the qualifying time for Glasgow.

The 2012 London Olympian needed to better the qualifying mark of  3 min 48.67 seconds and finished strongly to win in 3:47.90.

''I'm really happy,'' Stanley said of his swim.

''That's the main point of this meet, to qualify, and that takes a lot of the pressure off now to maybe post some really fast times.''

Stanley will also aim to qualify in the 200m freestyle on Thursday and now fancies his chances of another strong showing.

''It was a tough race. I think I was out a little soft in the first 100 [metres] but I'm really happy with the way the middle of the race went. It's always been a strength of mine, and overall it was a pretty good performance.''

As expected, Lauren Boyle also took her first spot in the team for the Games with a win in the women's 200m freestyle final.

Boyle entered the four-day meet short of her best form after falling ill during an altitude training camp in Arizona last month, but the North Shore swimmer still managed to set a New Zealand record of 1:57.67, almost half a second under the qualifying mark.

Boyle, who won three bronze medals at last year's world champs in Barcelona, also has her sights sets on contesting the 400m and 800m freestyle events in Glasgow.

She will also be part of the Kiwi women's 4x200m freestyle relay team with the Wellington trio of Sam-Lucie Smith, Emma Robinson and Tash Hind after the combined times of the first four finishers bettered the relay qualifying standard.  

Snyders, part of the NZ team in London two years ago with Stanley and Boyle, won the men's 200m breaststroke in 2:11.07, almost 1.5 seconds better than the qualifying time and said he'd been inspired by his fellow Olympians.

''I fed from those two,'' said the US-based Snyders, who is also likely to qualify in the 100m breaststroke.

Sophie Pascoe, a three-times gold medalist at the 2012 Paralympics, had already smashed the Games qualifying time for her 200 IM event during the heats yesterday morning. Pascoe is expected to contest a swag of events in Glasgow.

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The New Zealand team to attend the Commonwealth Games will be named at the completion of the meet on Friday night. 

- Fairfax Media

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