Surf Lifeguards qualify for Olympics

Posted by Administrator on Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Three more New Zealand surf lifeguards booked a place at the London Olympics tonight with a brilliant performance at the State New Zealand Swimming Championships in Auckland tonight.

Steven Kent (Titahi Bay), Dylan Dunlop-Barrett (NPOB) and St Clair's Andrew McMillan smashed the New Zealand 4x200m freestyle relay record and gave themselves an outstanding chance to earn an invitation to London.

Along with Matamata's Matthew Stanley, the quartet went 7:14.05 in the relay which was seven seconds under the old national record, but more importantly posting a time that would have placed them 10th in the world last year.

Their immediate aim tonight was to satisfy the NZOC criteria, which was a time equal to the 12th fastest team at last year's world championships.

They went inside that target of 7:15.65 with a superb effort, set up with a 1:48.02 opener by Stanley, 1:48.67 from Kent, a stunning 1:48.01 from Dunlop-Barrett and an anchor leg of 1:49.35 from McMillan.

"That was out of this world," said Dunlop-Barrett who returned from Australia after Christmas and is now based at the High Performance Centre.

"I nearly gave up the sport three months ago. I was that disillusioned with things. But it has been unreal back home. We are like brothers and we just gave it everything out there. It has not sunk in. I know we have to wait now but that was a great swim."

The women's 200m freestyle was set up by Lyall Bay club member Natasha Hind, who took the field through the 100m in a slick 57.67s before Lauren Boyle's strength showed through. She showed her class to come home in 1:58.28, inside the qualifying time for the Olympics by 5/100ths of a second.

Hind established a new personal best of 1:58.69 although it was an agonising 36/100ths of a second outside an individual qualifying time for London.

However Boyle, Hind, Amaka Gessler (2:00.07) and Samantha Lucie-Smith (2:01.26) were the first four home and will earn places in the team for the women's 4x200m freestyle relay which has already earned a qualifying spot in London. The selectors may consider adding a reserve with Boyle's anticipated heavy schedule in London.

Their combined time was under the time they set in the final of the world championships last year and the fastest time in the world to date this year.

New Zealand World Rescue 2012 squad members Kent, McMillan and Hind join Dunlop-Barrett and kayakers Luuka Jones and Lisa Carrington (both Mount Maunganui) in having qualified for London.

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