Palmer bounces back to earn a ticket to Olympics


North Shore sprinter Hayley Palmer, hospitalised with glandular fever last year, bounced back to grab a ticket to the Olympics on the last night of finals at the State New Zealand Swimming Championships in Auckland.

The 22-year-old produced her best time in two years to equal the qualifying standard of 25.27s to win the final of the 50m freestyle at the event that doubled as the Olympic trials at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Waitakere.

The number of individuals under the qualifying time for London is eight in 14 events along with the women's 4x200m freestyle relay, bringing the total to 12.

The men's 4x200m freestyle, women's 4x100m freestyle and men's 4x100m medley relay teams have met the New Zealand Olympic Committee criteria and will await final FINA invitation in June as one of the four remaining fastest nations.

Experienced North Shore swimmer Melissa Ingram will be heading to her second Olympics after going under the qualifying time in the 200m backstroke.

The 26-year-old clocked 2m 10.56s to be 0.3s under the qualifying mark for London.

The evening was sealed with a remarkable 3m 35.09s effort by the men's quartet of Gareth Kean, Glenn Snyders, Hawke's Bay-born Daniel Bell and Carl O'Donnell in the 4x100m medley relay.

The time would have placed them sixth at last year's world championships, and earned them selection for London, pending final invitation from FINA.

"It was a fantastic feeling. When you put four guys together they do everything for each other and can achieve great things," said Snyders.

"I was in the team that got fifth at Beijing and I think we can do amazing things again in London, given the chance."

There was further celebration when Olympic open water hope Kane Radford eclipsed the last of the great Danyon Loader's national records when he won the men's 1500m freestyle in 15m 27.13s, just 23/100ths of a second under the old mark that has stood since 1994.

Radford, still untapered for this meet as he prepares for the final Olympic open water qualifying race in Portugal in June, had to fight to dispose of training mate Nathan Capp.

Ingram had already bettered the qualifying mark last year at the world championships and had to wait for the final night which was a test of her focus and resolve. She clocked 2m 10.56s to be under the qualifying mark by 0.3s.

North Shore's Daniel Bell had to dig deep over the final 15m to come from behind to edge Australian-based Roskill Magic sprinter Paul Benson in the final of the 100m butterfly.

Benson led at the turn with Bell getting up to win in 53.57, with Benson just 6/100ths of a second behind with Corney Swanepoel (Roskill) third.

Earlier Roskill Magic's Nielsen Varoy defended his men's 50m freestyle title in a powerful burst in 22.92s, edging out Australian-based top qualifier Cameron Simpson (Templeton, Chch) by 4/100ths of a second with the 100m freestyle champion Carl O'Donnell (North Shore) third.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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