The New Zealand Open/Olympic Trials wrapped up tonight in Auckland, but not before 6 Kiwi swimmers collected 8 Olympic qualifying times. Additionally, 8 New Zealand Para-Swimmers dipped under the nomination standards across 24 events, bulking up the Kiwi roster in that realm as well.
The meet served as one of two qualifying meets for Rio. The 2nd qualifying event for Kiwi swimmers is the Canadian Olympic Trials, which are slated for April 5th through April 10th. Corey Main and recently-named Big Ten Male Swimmer of the Year, Matt Hutchins, are among the 13 New Zealanders slated to compete in the Toronto meet. Swimming New Zealand nominations will then be forwarded to its Olympic Committee for considerations following the Toronto meet, with the entire roster expected to be named on April 15th.
Of the performances this weekend in Auckland, Head Selector Mark Saunders commented, “We came in with a target of our five senior swimmers stepping up to reach the standard which has been excellent. And it has been the icing on the cake to get two of our targeted swimmers for Tokyo in 2020 to achieve the standard for Rio in Helena Gasson and Bradlee Ashby.”
Saunders continued, “There are some big plusses with the likes of Lauren Boyle and Matthew Stanley achieving the qualifying standard in multiple events, and Glenn Snyders has come home from the USA and really stood up.”
“The big plus is that in a number of cases, including Gasson and Ashby, the swimmers bettered the standard twice in a day. They swam fast in the morning and faster at night which is something we have not always managed to achieve in the past, and must do if we want to move from heats into semifinals and finals.”
New Zealand Trials Results
Day 1 Recap
Day 2 Recap
Day 3 Recap
Day 4 Recap
Freestyle specialist Matthew Stanley wrapped up a sweep of that discipline’s events over the course of the competition, touching first in the men’s 100m freestyle for another gold. Stanley scored a time of 49.59, followed immediately by Daniel Hunter who earned a time of 49.81 for silver.
Both men were unable to sneak under the FINA A cut of 48.99, but, as a consolation, Hunter actually rocked a new National Record for his efforts in the morning. His prelims swim of 49.43 was enough to surpass the previous Kiwi record of 49.54 held by Mark Herring since 2008. For his part, Stanley already acquired an Olympic automatic-qualifying time earlier in the meet in the men’s 200m freestyle.
The men’s 800m freestyle winner from day 1 expected to soar during his pet event, the men’s 1500m freestyle, but plans took a detour for the Greerton swimmer tonight. Hoping to clock a time beneath the FINA A cut barrier of 15.14.77, 23-year-old Capp instead settled for a time of 15:23.89. His lifetime best is the 15.15.50 he clocked at last year’s NZ Championships, which stands as the National Record.
On the women’s side, North Shore’s Laura Quilter took the 100m freestyle race in a time of 56.30, while the butterfly trifecta winner earlier in the meet, Helena Gasson, scored the victory in the women’s 400m IM in 452.06, a personal best. 16-year-old Bobbi Gichard clocked a time of 2:11.93 to win the 200m backstroke event, just over a second shy of the FINA A cut of 2:10.60.
Putting an exclamation point on the entire meet, however, was a foursome of Kiwi men who took part in a special relay time trial. The squad of Bradlee Ashby, Glenn Snyders, Chris Dawson and Daniel Hunter combined to score a 400m medley relay time of 3:36.86.
That time overtakes Greece’s mark of 3:37.86 to rank as the 14th-fastest in the world for the relay qualification period that started on May 1, 2015 and ends May 31st of this year.