Swimming: Boyle splashes into the unknown at world short course

Lauren Boyle. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Lauren Boyle. Photo / Mark Mitchell

New Zealand swimmer Lauren Boyle will enter unknown waters when the world short course championships begin in Turkey tomorrow.

The 24-year-old, who finished fourth in the 800m freestyle in London, will use the championships as her first competition since the Olympics.

Boyle leads a six-strong New Zealand team in the five-day championships, with the North Shore swimmer satisfied she is in good shape.

"My preparation has been has been good," Boyle said. "While it would have been of benefit to get in a couple of racing experiences before this meet, I also rate the down-time I had since the Olympics."

Boyle is the top-ranked New Zealand swimmer - sixth in the 800m freestyle and seventh over the 400m freestyle - and she will compete in both events in Turkey. She said racing skills are paramount in the 25m championships.

"In short-course racing turns become even more of a focus. There is more of an emphasis on breath control and maximising the time you spend under the water.

"I enjoy short-course racing because it stimulates me in different ways than long-course racing does."

She faces some tough competition from the likes of Lotte Friis (DEN), two-time world short course champion, London Olympic gold and silver medallist Allison Schmidtt (USA) and the overall World Cup winner Katinka Hosszu from Hungary.

"I have very good competition in both and the 400 comes the morning after the 800 final so those two days will be intense and demanding. It would be great to improve my rankings and times. "

Her fellow North Shore swimmer Melissa Ingram is ranked sixth in the 200m backstroke, the event in which she won a bronze medal in 2004.

Ingram has come off an outstanding World Cup series, where she won five times in the 200m backstroke and was runner-up on the other three occasions.

Her best is only two seconds off top seed Elizabeth Simmonds (GBR) and Ingram will also resume her battles with Ukraine's Daryna Zevina from the World Cup campaign.

The other top-ranked Kiwi swimmer is Matthew Stanley from Matamata who is eighth fastest in the men's 400m freestyle and 10th in the 200m freestyle.

Stanley, who competed in London after making huge gains in 2012, impressed with one win and two second placings in the 400m freestyle in the Asian legs of the World Cup.

"I don't really have any specific goals, just to swim as fast as I can and it would be nice to make a final. That would be a benchmark for me," Stanley said.

"All I want to do is go out and swim faster than I did in the World Cup and hopefully that will put me in a final and hopefully I can swim up with the best."

The rest of the team are venturing to a major international for the first time and will be looking for personal bests to potentially push into semifinals.

Corey Main, 17, claimed his place in the team with his first national open title at the short course championships in the 100m backstroke. The age group champion on both sides of the Tasman is starting on his path to the Rio Olympics and is looking to advance his ranking of 20th tomorrow.

Howick Pakuranga clubmate and fellow teenager Ewan Jackson is also in action on the opening day in the 200m freestyle with Stanley. Like Main, he will be looking to improve his international ranking, although his better chance will come in the 400m freestyle where he is ranked 12th fastest.

Queensland-based Cantabrian Cameron Simpson faces a busy schedule in the 50m and 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly starting on day two.

New Zealand has won eight individual and two relay medals at the world short course championships over the last 20 years, with the last coming at Manchester in 2008 when Moss Burmester won gold in the 200m butterfly and the men's medley relay won a bronze medal.

- APNZ

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