Lauren Boyle led the way on the fourth morning of heats at the New Zealand Short Course Championships at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre today.
The 25-year-old, who has only recently returned to training following a break after her world championship success, posted a world class time of 4:04.64 in the 400m freestyle heats to qualify first for the final tonight.
World junior champion Gabrielle Fa'amausili (Laser Mt Eden) set a swift time of 28.29s in the 50m backstroke, the event in which she won her world title last month.
Caroline Baddock, winner of the 100m and 200m backstroke, has also qualified for the final tonight, along with Rebekah Bradley, Bobbi Gichard, and world surf lifesaving champion Laura Quilter. All five swimmers were within 0.3s of each other this morning.
In other women's heats, World University Games representative Kate Godfrey (Neptune) had a strong heat swim to qualify first for the final of the 200m individual medley tonight, while the 100m butterfly saw AquaBlack Samantha Lee (Capital) secure the top final spot in a time of 1:00.36.
In the men's heats, Auckland swimmer Erik Kahr progressed through to the 50m breaststroke final as the fastest qualifier followed by Ben Walsh and Alex Peach, while the 100m freestyle final is going to be a tight battle with the top eight qualifiers from this morning's heat all within a second of each other. Teenager Samuel Perry (St Peters) led the way with a time of 49.40s, ahead of Kurt Crosland (Neptune) and Matthew Stanley (Matamata).
Twenty-nine-year-old Crosland was back in the pool a short time later in the 50m backstroke clocking a time of 24.33s which was only 0.6s outside the national open record held by Daniel Bell. The Dunedin swimmer will no doubt challenge the mark tonight in his favoured event before returning to the pool again in the 100m individual medley where he is also the top qualifier.
The finals session begins at 6pm tonight and the meet finishes tomorrow.