Olympics: Boyle's absence sees relay team bow out

Gareth Kean had a disappointing performance in the men's 200m backstroke heats. Source / Mark Mitchell NZ Herald
Gareth Kean had a disappointing performance in the men's 200m backstroke heats. Source / Mark Mitchell NZ Herald

Some special things are happening in the pool at the London Olympics - many have said too special given the feats of Chinese 16-year-old Ye Shiwen - but they didn't quite happen for the New Zealanders tonight (NZT).

The women's 4x200m freestyle relay team of Tash Hind, Samantha Lucie-Smith, Amaka Gessler and Melissa Ingram swam well and broke the New Zealand record by half a second but will be left wondering what they might have been able to achieve if Lauren Boyle had started the race.

Boyle, who was eighth in the final of the 400m freestyle, opted out to focus on tomorrow's 800m and it robbed the team of their best swimmer. She might have taken two seconds off their new national record of 7:55.92, which would have been enough to get them into the final, and she would have also positioned the team well as the first swimmer.

Instead, New Zealand finished fifth in a heat easily won by the United States and 11th of the 16 countries overall.

It has put some pressure on Boyle, who potentially gave up swimming in an Olympic final, when she goes in the heats of the 800m.

"It was a New Zealand record so we are all really pleased," Ingram said. "We all stepped up and did amazing times so we are really happy with that.

"It's hard to say [if we would have made the final if Boyle swam]. It is what it is. She didn't swim it and we were just focused on doing the job as a team and we all swam to the best of our abilities."

Wellington backstroker Gareth Kean didn't do that and was well off the pace in the 200m backstroke heats, finishing more than three seconds slower than his national record and last in his heat.

He went into the event with the 11th fastest time but his 2:00.54 was only good enough to finish 29th out of the 35 swimmers. The 100m backstroke is the 20-year-old's best event, and he made it through to the semifinals of the shorter race earlier at these Games, but he picked up silver in the 200m at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and has been touted as one of New Zealand's most promising swimmers.

"I'm not too sure what happened," he said. "I went out pretty well and felt quite fresh but things just didn't click in that second 100 and I didn't pick up my stroke rate. It's unfortunate because I was looking forward to a good race.

"I would have loved to have gone a lot faster. Obviously I wasn't ready for it on the day, which is not ideal. I just need to think of a way to get back, to get training and see what I can do next year. I don't think I have lived up to my potential this year. I feel I can definitely go a lot faster."

- NZ Herald

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