A Wellington teenager who nearly drowned as a toddler, and an in-tune quartet of female freestylers won New Zealand silver medals at the Commonwealth Games pool in Delhi last night.
Gareth Kean turned in the swim of his life to claim men's 200m backstroke silver in New Zealand record time, 1m 57.37s. Then Lauren Boyle, Tauranga's Penelope Marshall, Amaka Gessler and Natasha Hind were second in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay, chasing home Australia in a New Zealand record of 7m 57.45s.
Kean, who turned 19 on Tuesday, qualified eighth in the heats, then from his outside lane ambushed all but winner James Goddard, of England, in a race won in Games record time.
Kean, a lean 1.94m, was fourth with 100m to swim, and third at the turn home. He easily cut back tiring Australian Ashley Delaney, and when he hit the wall looked to the scoreboard and erupted into a double fist pump of delight.
"The race plan was to swim a solid first half, and really come home," he said. "It felt fantastic."
Kean swam 0.41s under his recent New Zealand record - a time which had him ranked third coming to Delhi. Goddard lowered the Games record to 1m 55.58s, with Delaney snaffling bronze in 1m 58.18s.
Kean recently won 100m and 200m backstroke golds at the junior Pan Pacific junior championship in Hawaii, and was fifth in the 200m backstroke at the senior Pan Pacific champs in California. He is coached by Gary Hurring.
Kean nearly drowned in a pool as a 2-year-old, prompting his parents to get him swimming lessons.
The relay squad held second from the time Boyle opened with a 1m 58.78s first 200m. All four cracked two minutes - a first for a Kiwi squad - as England and Canada were put to the sword in the race for silver.
Marshall swam 1m 59.96s, Gessler 1m 59.49s and Hind anchored in 1m 59.23s. Australia won in 7m 53.71s, a Games record, with New Zealand holding off England by 1.15s.