Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Swimming: Two more qualify for Rio Olympics

Bradlee Ashby. Photo / Getty
Bradlee Ashby. Photo / Getty

A further two swimmers booked their ticket to Rio on day three of the national swimming championships after the morning session threw out some surprise results.

Waikato's Bradlee Ashby pulled off a big swim in the 200m individual medley, eclipsing the Olympic qualifying standard by .28 seconds, to become New Zealand's fourth qualifier for the August Games.

His time of two minutes flat broke the New Zealand record previously held by three-time Olympian Dean Kent.

After Ashby's impressive swim the buzz at North Shore's national aquatic centre had barely died down before Helena Gasson added her name to the list of Olympic qualifiers, going under the mark the 100m butterfly.

The 21-year-old, who trains out of the North Shore club, produced a time of 58.66 to better both the qualifying time and the New Zealand record.

For Gasson, this morning's effort went a long way to making up for the disappointment of the opening day of the championship, when she narrowly missed qualification in the 200m butterfly, fading badly in the finals after a strong swim in the morning.

Gasson said she learnt a lot from her experience earlier in the week.

"I did not handle the pressure well at all, so I've seen a few people about it and tried to get my head right - I really needed to," she said.

"I just had to stay positive [for today's race]. I wasn't really thinking about the end time, I was just thinking about processes and how I was going to swim the race and if I did it how I knew I could, I knew I would do the time."

In all, three New Zealand records fell on day three of the championships, with Howick Pakuranga's Daniel Hunter setting a new best time in the 50m freestyle as he came agonisingly close to the Olympic qualifying time. Hunter's time of 22.31 was just 0.04 seconds outside the Fina 'A' standard swimmers need to better in order to make the grade for Rio.

In other near-misses, five-time World Championship medallist Lauren Boyle was just outside the Olympic qualifying time in the heats of the 400m freestyle. But Boyle, who qualified in the 800m freestyle on the opening night of the event, is expected to easily knock off the mark in this evening's finals.

- NZ Herald

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