(Pictured Above: Lauren Boyle)
After its weeklong National Swimming Championships wrapped up last week, it appeared as though Swimming NZ was going to be taking a very small contingent to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, as only 7 swimmers cleared the qualifying times set by the New Zealand Olympic Comittee.
Yesterday, it was announced that Swimming NZ has successfully appealed the qualifying times, which were set based on times that the Olympic Committee believed would allow its swimmers to contend for top-six spots at the games, which are to be held in Dehli this summer. For financial reason, the NZOC is hesitant to send any swimmers who do not appear prepared to challenge for medals.
However, the teams performance and pathways General Manager Jan Cameron successfully argued that the times, which were set 12 months ago at the height of the polyurethane swim suit craze, wer not realistic when compared to the current state of the sport. The NZOC agreed, and raised the qualifying times to reflect what they see in current major meets, including the National Championships in neighboring Australia.
The new standard has been set at 890 FINA Points, based on the latest FINA Points tables. Notable qualifiers include Lauren Boyle, who swims collegiately for Cal and was the 2010 NCAA runner-up in the 500 free; and Hayley Palmer, who is the New Zealand National Record holder in the 50 and 100 freestyles (long course and short course). Both women swim for the powerful North Shore swim club.
Fiery New Zealand swim coach Mark Regan, despite having 3 National Records broken at the meet, was still underwhelmed by his squad’s performance.
“I actually expected better,” he told New Zealand’s Sunday News. “I think the pressure got to them and that had a lot to do with it. They’ve got to deal with these situations a lot better and that’s what I’ll try to do over the next couple of months – put them under extreme pressure so they handle it better.”
Still, Regan has high hopes for his team: “I’m excited by them. They’re a good team of individuals. They can all improve, can all go better.”
With the addition of 5 more swimmers to the roster, Regan is under even more pressure than his swimmers. If they don’t perform well at the Commonwealth Games, their high-performance roster is in danger of losing huge amounts of funding. For his part, Regan says that he isn’t feeling any pressure from it, and that he doesn’t expect his swimmers to either.
NZ Commonwealth Games swimming squad
Daniel Bell (North Shore) 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke; Lauren Boyle (North Shore) 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay; Moss Burmester (North Shore) 200m butterfly; Melissa Ingram (North Shore) 200m backstroke; Hayley Palmer (North Shore) 100m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay; Glenn Snyders (North Shore) 50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke; Natalie Wiegersma (Waverley, Southland) 200m individual medley, 400m individual medley; Tash Hind (Capital) 200m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100m freestyle relay; Penelope Marshall (North Shore) 200m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100m freestyle relay; Amaka Gessler (Aqua Gym) 4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100m freestyle relay; Emily Thomas (North Shore) 100m backstroke; Gareth Kean (Capital) 200m backstroke.