New Zealand will send an eight-strong swim team to the Rio Olympic Games, announced today at the Sir Owen G. Glenn National Aquatic Centre by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
The team is led by freestyler Lauren Boyle and breastroke specialist Glenn Snyders, who will both be attending their third Olympic Games, joining Dean Kent and Helen Norfolk as the only other New Zealand swimmers to achieve this feat.
With eight swimmers having achieved the FINA A qualifying time today’s announcement equals the highest number of individual swimmers to qualify for any Olympic Games in more than 20 years, matching eight swimmers in both London 2012 and Sydney 2000.
Three of the eight confirmed today – Boyle (United Swim Club, Auckland), Snyders (North Shore Swimming, Auckland) and Matthew Stanley (Matamata, Waikato) – competed in London. While Bradlee Ashby (Fairfield Swim Club, Waikato), Helena Gasson (North Shore Swimming, Auckland), Matthew Hutchins (Wharenui Swim Club, Christchurch), Corey Main (Howick Pakuranga Swim Club, Counties Manukau) and Emma Robinson (Capital Swim Club, Wellington) will be heading to their first Olympic Games.
New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith was on hand to congratulate the athletes this morning.
“The combination of swimmers confirmed in the team today is hugely exciting. There’s a great balance between those heading to Rio with previous Olympic experience and those who will be racing at their very first Olympic Games,” said Smith.
“In addition, the spread of club representation amongst the swimmers from Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, and right through to Christchurch reflects just how representative this 2016 Olympic Team is of wider New Zealand.”
Boyle led the way in London four years ago, finishing fourth in the 800m freestyle and making the final in the 400m freestyle. She also claimed silver medals in the 800m and 1500m freestyle at the 2015 world championships.
Snyders qualified for the semifinals of the 100m breaststroke in London and was 10th fastest in heats of the 200m breaststroke, while Stanley was 15th in the 400m freestyle and 18th in the 200m freestyle.
“There is an encouraging mix of experienced Olympians, some who have been in our international programme and some exciting younger swimmers who are part of our 2020 targeted group which shows our development programme is showing progress,” said Swimming New Zealand CEO, Christian Renford.
“Today is the opportunity to celebrate their Olympic selection and we congratulate the swimmers, their coaches and their clubs.
“This is the first box ticked for this group of swimmers and I am sure their aim will now be to step up their training over the next 14 weeks. Their goal will be to improve their international rankings and achieve new best times in Rio.”
Alex Baumann, Chief Executive of High Performance Sport New Zealand said, “We believe this is one of our most exciting swimming teams to attend an Olympic Games. I am delighted to see our investment in the programme reflected through the exciting pipeline of talent selected today and I would like to congratulate all the athletes and acknowledge their hard work and dedication”.
PHOTO: BW Media
There is still potential for the team to be expanded with Kane Radford and Charlotte Webby to contest the final 10km open water swimming trial in Portugal in June.
Swimming has a rich Olympic history with the sport being included in the very first modern Olympic Games in 1896. From a New Zealand perspective, in 1920 Violet Walrond became our first female Olympian competing at the Olympic Games in Antwerp. There she competed at the age of 15 in the 100m and 300m freestyle events.
In more recent times, it is hard to forget Danyon Loader’s double Olympic Gold in the 200m and 400m freestyle at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.