Swimming: Tough standards set for Comm Games

By David Leggat

Lauren Boyle and her teammates face some demanding qualifying standards if they are to compete at next year's Commonwealth Games. Photo / Getty
Lauren Boyle and her teammates face some demanding qualifying standards if they are to compete at next year's Commonwealth Games. Photo / Getty

Meeting tough qualifying standards is nothing new for New Zealand swimmers.

Each announcement of the times required of major event hopefuls tend to be accompanied by groans of unfairness.

However it's worth noting that the qualifying times announced today for next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow fulfill the New Zealand Olympic Committee criteria of a top six ranking in the Commonwealth, based on times set at the London Olympics last year.

"We have no real issue with the criteria for the Commonwealth Games," Swimming New Zealand high performance director Luis Villanueva said.

"Glasgow is not a development meet. It is our pinnacle event for 2014 and we want our swimmers to be at this level if they wish to be successful in Glasgow and look forward to the Rio Olympics (in 2016)."

Demanding qualifying times also go to the issue of not soft-soaping swimmers.
If they are expected to perform on the big stages, they need to prove they have the talent to do so before they get there, rather than sending swimmers off on a wing and a prayer.

In some events - three-time medallist at the worlds in Barcelona in July-August, Lauren Boyle, and freestyler Matt Stanley being cases in point - New Zealand records are already inside the required marks.

Half of the successful world championship qualifying times put up at this year's national championships were faster than the required Commonwealth Games standard with the remainder only fractionally outside.

"Our aim is for our swimmers to continue to improve from last year to this year to next year and so on. If we want to be competitive and make finals in Rio in 2016, then achieving a top-six time in the Commonwealth based on times from last year is a realistic target," Villanueva said.

"It is tough for sure, but attainable if our swimmers continue to show good attitude and hard work."

SNZ has a big year coming up.

Elite swimmers will contest the quadrennial Pan Pacific championships in Queensland next August, involving full-strength non-European nations, such as the United States, and hosts Australia. Pan Pacific nations won 24 of the 40 world titles in Barcelona.

The Junior Pan Pacific championships, the second Youth Olympics and Oceania Championships are on the radar for development swimmers. The Oceania champs will be held in Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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