Three swimmers went under the qualifying times for the London Olympics at the New Zealand championships in Auckland today but none was more impressive then Matt Stanley.

The 20-year-old Matamata swimmer erased from the record books Danyon Loader's 16-year-old national record in the 400m freestyle, set by Loader in winning gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Stanley's time of 3:47.67 was more than a second inside the time needed for London, more than three seconds better than his previous best, and three-tenths of a second quicker than Loader's historic swim.

"It means a lot to me to get this record," Stanley said. "My time was within the realms of what we thought was possible, but this is out of this world."

Advertisement

The link between Stanley and Loader runs deeper than the record, as the youngster was coached in Matamata by Graeme Laing, son of the late Duncan Laing who coached Loader in his illustrious career.

"Of course, until I can win those gold medals, I'm not beginning to touch Danyon yet. He's been an inspiration to me."

Stanley will now set himself for his favoured 200m, the other event in which Loader won gold in Atlanta, while also hoping New Zealand can also qualify for the 4x200m freestyle relay.

Elsewhere, the country's highest ranked international swimmer, Glenn Snyders, went under the London qualifying time twice in the 100m breaststroke. The 24-year-old clocked 1:00.56 in the heats to again reach the mark, after first achieving the target at last year's world championships, before backing it up with a 1:00.04 to win the final.

Ranked No 6 in the world at the distance, Snyders said he was happy with his performance.

"I was really pleased to back up from the morning which is something I didn't do last year," he said. "It would have been great to go under the minute in front of the home crowds but this is a good performance.

"I'm pleased and now want to set myself to go fast in the 200."

The other swimmer to reach the London standard was Natalie Wiegersma who, along with Sophia Batchelor, proved a blink can be the difference in agony and ecstasy.

Advertisement

Southlander Wiegersma, 22, finished just 1/100th of a second inside the qualifying time for the London Olympics in the women's 400m individual medley in 4:41.74. But at the other end of the spectrum was 16-year-old Canterbury prospect Batchelor, who broke her own New Zealand record in the 100m butterfly in 58.71, but finished just 1/100th of a second outside the qualifying time for London.

Wiegersma battled shoulder injuries for much of last year but had trained well for the meet.

"I have trained harder than ever before," she said. "I was actually looking for Helen Norfolk's national record (4:39) but I will take that. Two/100ths of a second slower and I was out, but this is great to know I am going to London.

"I am not going to relax, but it takes some pressure off and I can have a big go at the 200m medley."

Batchelor made a stronger start in the final from her morning heat, going out in 27.4 seconds and holding superbly on the way home. She stretched for the wall but finished an agonising 1/100th of a second off the qualifying time.

"I have to check with my coach but I am pretty pleased with that," Batchelor said. "I have to be pleased with that swim but 1/100th of a second is pretty unreal to miss by."