Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Swimming: Stanley disappointed despite sealing Rio spot

Matt Stanley. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Matt Stanley. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Waikato's Matt Stanley may have booked his spot in the team for Rio, but he left the job unfinished as far as he was concerned.

After posting an Olympic qualifying time of 1:47.68 in the 200m freestyle during this morning's heats on day two of the national championships, Stanley had hoped to go faster again in the finals, with his sights set firmly on breaking the 1:47 mark, and with it, his own New Zealand record.

But Stanley could not back up in the evening's finals session, with a sluggish middle 100m costing him as he took out the title in a time of 1:48.34, just edging out Howick Pakuranga's Ewan Jackson.

With the high of having booked his ticket to Rio having worn off by the evening, Stanley was only left with disappointment that he couldn't respond with an even better performance in the final.

"Getting the qualifying time was the main objective of this meet, but I'm pretty disappointed with tonight," said Stanley, who became the third swimmer to make the grade for Rio behind Lauren Boyle and Emma Robinson, who both eclipsed the Fina 'A' time in the 800m freestyle on the opening night of the championships.

"This morning I was more controlled and I didn't really push too hard during the middle hundred and if I'd really gone after it this morning I probably could have gone 1:46, but I guess that's what happens when you hold back and don't get it right on the night, so it's a good learning curve."

It a lesson that will serve him well in the lead-up to the August Games. Such will be the level of competition in Rio that Stanley will need to produce a personal best in the heats to have a chance of advancing through to the semifinals, and once there, go faster again.

"The depth in the 200m at the moment is crazy, there's about one per cent separated the top 20 in the world, so it's tough but I'm not too far off and I just need to keep working on what I've been working on and start putting better race plans together."

All three swimmers that have posted Olympic qualifying times thus far are based on the Gold Coast - Stanley and Boyle with the Miami Swim Club, while Robinson trains out of the TSS Aquatic club in Southport.

Fresh off winning his 12th national 50m breaststroke title on the opening night, Los Angeles-based Glenn Synders advanced took out the 200m breaststroke final, but his time of 2:12.41 was about a second off the magic mark for Rio.

But the 28-year-old still has his main event, the 100m breaststroke, to come on Thursday as he chases his third Olympic Games.

One of the outside hopes for Olympic qualification last night was Greerton's Nathan Capp, who was chasing selection in 400m individual medley. Needing to better his own national record of 4:17.72 by a second to earn the nod for Rio, Capp fell well short in the final, posting a time of 4:18.75. But he easily retained his title, finishing nearly 14 seconds clear of Otago's Andrew Trembath.

In the non-Olympic women's 50m backstroke, two of New Zealand's rising stars were in action. World Junior champion Gabrielle Fa'amausili predictably took out the final, finishing nearly a full second ahead of her rivals. The 16-year-old United Swimmer Club recorded a handy 27.97 some 0.80 swifter than Bobbi Gichard (Howick Pakuranga). The real battle between the pair will come in tomorrow's 100m backstroke, with both teens considered capable of meeting the time for Rio.

- NZ Herald

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