Commonwealth Games: Improve or pay price, warns swim boss

By Nik Simon

Sophie Pascoe. Photo / Getty Images
Sophie Pascoe. Photo / Getty Images

There was no beating around the bush from Luis Villanueva as he reflected on the campaign in Glasgow; New Zealand's swimmers had not been good enough.

Out of the 16-strong squad picked for these Commonwealth Games, only Lauren Boyle and Sophie Pascoe finished among the medals. Just once since Brisbane in 1982 had New Zealand's men failed to pick up a single piece of silverware.

Villanueva may carry a harmless persona, but the high-performance director warned his swimmers to improve their performance or pay the price. There will be one last chance to impress at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships next month, before the Spaniard carries out a comprehensive two-year review.

"The team hasn't performed as well as I expected," said Villanueva. "It's not about the medals, it's about seeing progression. It's not the point to make the team at the trials, then not improve the performance over the next 15 weeks.

"The selection criteria for next year is going to be hard and we need to step up and swim faster. Some of the guys have seized their opportunity here, but the ones that haven't need to step up in three weeks time."

Singled out for praise were Boyle, Pascoe and 19-year-old Corey Main.

Main was a newcomer to the big stage. The backstroke specialist reached the final of both the 100m and 200m disciplines, narrowly missing a bronze over the longer distance.

"It was Corey's first major competition, but he looked like a very experienced swimmer," said Villanueva. "He will grow and get more muscular. He still looks like a kid but he has a very good technique and I see a lot of determination." There are three weeks until Australia's Gold Coast hosts the Pan-Pacs; the pressure is on Villanueva's swimmers to produce a golden performance.

- NZ Herald

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