Wellington backstroker Gareth Kean has added a further Olympic qualifying performance on the penultimate morning of heats at the State New Zealand Swimming Championships in Auckland. Kean, 20, from Wellingtons High Performance Centre, was just 1/100th of a second outside his own New Zealand record in the 200m backstroke that he set at the Delhi Commonwealth Games. He clocked 1:57.38 to be nearly a second inside the qualifying time for London and adds to the 100m backstroke qualifying time set earlier in the championships. Kean will chase another fast time in tonights final and may drag through a second qualifier with North Shores Kurt Bassett on target through the 150m mark before taking the foot off the pedal over the final 50m. Auckland-based American Rhi Jeffrey (West Auckland Aquatics) topped the heats in the womens 100m freestyle with the next four swimmers Penelope Marshall, Tash Hind, Hayley Palmer and Amaka Gessler going under the FINA B time. If they can replicate that in tonights final they will earn the opportunity to contest the 4x100m freestyle relay in an attempt at Olympic qualification. North Canterbury 16-year-old Natasha Lloyd is on target for her third national title in breaststroke, as she was fastest in heats of the 200m today 2:33.34, well clear of the rest of the challengers. North Shores Mitchell Donaldson was fastest in heats of the 200m individual medley ahead of clubmate Ashton Baumann in 2:05.91. Tonights finals begin at 6.30pm and the championships continue until tomorrow when the team for the London Olympics will be named.
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