Batchelor trains for fast getaways

GEOFF LONGLEY
Last updated 05:00 16/06/2012
Sophia Batchelor
DEAN KOZANIC/The Press
STARTING BLOCK: New Zealand swimmer Sophia Batchelor will have no excuses for not making a fast getaway.

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New Zealand swimmer Sophia Batchelor will have no excuses for not making a fast getaway with a specialist international starting block installed for her at the Aqua Gym club in Christchurch.

The block, which retails at $6000 without any electronic timing, is used at major Fina (international swimming federation) carnivals around the world, was put in at the pool last month along with a set of new regulation blocks.

Batchelor's coach, Leanne Speechley, said in a sport where every split-second counts it was vital to have the best equipment possible.

"We impress on the kids that every start and turn is critical and this is a great asset."

The block was sourced from Brisbane as a spare by Speechley, an Australian, earlier this year. It was unable to be installed in time for the 16-year-old to use it before the national Olympic qualifying trials in Auckland in April where she missed a spot to London by an agonising hundredth of a second in the 100m butterfly.

The new block is believed to be the only one in the South Island, although a local hand-made equivalent has been produced for New Zealand's Paralympic swimmer Sophie Pascoe to use at Jellie Park.

A group of Batchelor's supporters, including her parents, contributed to the purchase.

"The great thing though is that other top-level kids can use it to help them prepare for pinnacle events. Sophie has been invited to use it ahead of the Paralympics in London," Speechley said.

"The other good thing is that Sophia knows how to get the best out of it having been competing overseas on them for the past 12-18 months. The kicker can be adjusted back and forward and she is really good at educating the other swimmers how to use it."

Speechley said she was also grateful to pool owner Brett Naylor, a former New Zealand Olympic representative swimmer, for allowing the specialist device to be placed alongside the standard models.

"It looks a bit different and it could be a problem for the youngsters, but Brett recognised the need for it to help the club and swimmers in the area."

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