Swimming: Kiwi grabs record-breaking gold

New Zealand swimmer Gareth Kean has swum into Commonwealth Games medal reckoning with a record performance on the third day of the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii today.

The 18-year-old from Wellington won his second gold medal, taking out the men's 200m backstroke title after winning the 100m backstroke earlier in the meet at the Kihei Aquatic Centre in Maui.

Kean clocked one minute, 57.78 seconds to win the final which took 7/10ths of a second off the New Zealand record set by Kurt Bassett at last year's world championships.

The time is inside the top 15 times in the world and the top three in the Commonwealth this year.

The Capital club swimmer is progressing superbly in his second straight week of competition following fifth place at the Pan Pacific Championships which thrilled his own coach and team head coach Gary Hurring.

"It was a great swim and I think he has more to give. He's only 18," Hurring said. "He's been going well all season and going faster every time he's raced.

"Going under 1:58 was the goal. It thought it was quite possible but I didn't want to put too much pressure on him."

Kean went out fast to open a healthy advantage over Jacob Pebley at the midway point with the American making his move over the third 50m to close before the New Zealander eased away again coming home to win by more than a second.

Hurring believes Kean could go faster in Delhi although they face a short campaign and quick taper, while his long term prospects are excellent.

"In big meets under pressure he rises to the occasion and that's something we are always looking for in our athletes."

Earlier 15 year old Sophia Batchelor (Aqua Gym, Christchurch) finished fifth in the A final of the women's 200m backstroke in an excellent 2min 12.75sec, just outside her own national age record and a strong performance for the youngest swimmer in the final.

Samantha Lucie-Smith (Karori Pirates) was sixth in the A final of the 400m freestyle in an excellent swim while fellow Wellington swimmer Samantha Lee (Capital) was sixth in the B final of the 100m butterfly in 1min 01.80sec, a touch outside the national age record.

The meet concludes tomorrow with Wellington's Georgina Hind competing in the women's 10km open water swim, Batchelor in the 200m individual medley and Lucie-Smith and Lee in the 50m freestyle.

Selected day 3 results, A finals of the Junior Pan Pacific Championships:

400m freestyle: Chels Chenault (US) 4:10.79, 1 (meet record); Tristin Baxter (US) 4:12.19, 2; Jessica Ashwood (Australia) 4:12.47, 3. Also: Samantha Lucie-Smith (NZ) 4:19.14, 6.

100m backstroke women: Sayaka Akase (Japan) 2:09.68, 1 (meet record); Bonnie Brandon (US) 2:11.89, 2; Madison White (US) 2:11.92, 3. Also: Sophia Batchelor (NZ) 2:12.75, 5.

100m backstroke men: Gareth Kean (NZ) 1:57.78, 1 (meet and NZ open record); Jacob Pebley (US) 1:58.96, 2; Mitch Larkin (Australia) 2:00.33, 3.

B finals:

Noemie Thomas (Canada) 1:00.20, 1; Haley Sims (US) 1:00:.92, 2; Noelle Tarazona (US) 1:01.41, 3. Also: Samantha Lee (NZ) 1:01.80, 6.

- NZPA

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