Swimming: Ingram edges Batchelor, qualifies for worlds

Melissa Ingram competes in the Women's 200m backstroke. Photo / Getty Images
Melissa Ingram competes in the Women's 200m backstroke. Photo / Getty Images

Experience and youth were to the fore on the final night of the national swimming championships in Auckland tonight.

Titleholder Melissa Ingram took out the women's 200m backstroke and dragged talented teen Sophia Batchelor through as both swimmers went under the qualifying time for July's world championships in Shanghai.

Ingram, 25, the most experienced swimmer in the country, saved her best until last with a well measured performance to clock two minutes 10.38 seconds, more than 2sec under the qualifying time.

"The 200m back is always at the end of the meet so I am used to coping with that. I think my friends and family were more stressed," Ingram said.

"My build-up this time was not quite as long because I had my wisdom teeth out after Delhi (Commonwealth Games) and some time out of the pool. With that in mind, I am really pleased with the swim and where I am at."

There was plenty of excitement when Batchelor, 15, clung on to the heels of Ingram with a well judged effort to clock a personal best of 2:11.72, booking her spot in the team for Shanghai.

Batchelor said she was lost for words with the qualifying swim on the back of a difficult build-up caused by the earthquake in Christchurch, which forced the closure of her club pool and QEII, while the family also suffered with extensive damage to their home.

"I was really, really nervous before the race," Batchelor said. "I put my headphones on and tried to relax because that's how I swim best.

"It's incredible. I can't put it into words. It was hard with no long course pool to train in and then to lose our own pool and so I came here with no expectations.

"It was so kind of the North Canterbury club to accommodate us and we just did the best we could. I can't believe I've just qualified for the world championships."

Dylan Dunlop-Barrett completed an impressive clean sweep of the distance freestyle events, adding the 1500m title to the 400m and 800m he won earlier in the week.

At the other end of the spectrum there were some close battles in the sprints.

Carl O'Donnell added the 50m freestyle to the 100m title he won earlier in the week, winning in 23.22 from Cameron Simpson and defending champion Orinoco Faamausili Banse.

Youth was again to the fore when Lauren Quilter, 18, clocked 27.06 to win the women's 50m butterfly, only 0.05 outside the national record, out-touching Hayley Palmer and Samantha Richter.

Record holder Corney Swanepoel headed off rivals in another close battle in the men's 100m butterfly in 54.11 ahead of Daniel Bell and Andrew McMillan.

Titleholder Natalie Wiegersma took out the women's 400m individual medley in 4:47.76 ahead of Samantha Lucie-Smith and Kelsey Moffatt.

Tauranga's Nathan Capp took out the men's 400m medley in 4:26.14, coming from behind with a strong freestyle leg to edge Carsten Corazza and Mitchell Donaldson.

There were 10 swimmers - seven individuals and one relay team - to go under the world championships qualifying standards at the meet.

The team will be announced at the Swimming New Zealand awards function tomorrow.

- NZPA

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