The final night of the State New Zealand Swimming Championships is shaping up for more Olympic qualifying opportunities after some strong performances in the heats this morning at the West Wave Aquatic Centre in Waitakere. The North Shore pair of Samantha Richter and Hayley Palmer are both within reach of qualification in the womens 50m freestyle. Richter, who broke the national record in the 50m butterfly this week, topped heat times in 25.56, which is 45/100ths of a second outside the qualifying time for the Olympics, with Palmer, a Beijing Olympian, only a touch further back as third fastest. Sandwiched between them is Auckland-based American Rhi Jeffrey from West Auckland Aquatics. Daniel Bell, who went under the qualifying mark in his preferred 100m backstroke earlier in the meet, was fastest in the 100m butterfly in 54.09. The winner of the final tonight will need to go at least this time or faster to allow for a mens medley relay team to attempt an Olympic qualifying time in the relay tonight. Beijing Olympian Melissa Ingram, who went under the qualifying time in the 200m backstroke at the World Championships, swam strongly this morning to clock 2:11.47 in the heats. This is only half a second outside the qualifying mark for London. The session was sealed with a New Zealand record to North Shores Lauren Boyle who clocked 16:20.47 in the 1500m freestyle, a non - Olympic event. It was five second inside the national record set by Cara Baker last year. It completed a gruelling and rewarding schedule for Boyle, with the Mark Regan-coached swimmer going under the qualifying times for the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle as well as being part of the womens 4x200m freestyle relay. Tonights finals begin at 6.30pm with the team for the London Olympics to be named at the conclusion.
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