The New Zealand team hope that extra competition and a lengthy build-up in Europe will pay dividends in the FINA World Swimming Championships that begin in Spain tomorrow.
Feedback from the Kiwi swimmers after the London Olympics pointed to the need for more competition in the lead-up to major meets, with Swimming New Zealand sending the 10-strong team to Europe seven weeks ago as a result.
Twenty-one year old Matthew Stanley, who competes in the 400m freestyle at the superb Palau Sant Jordi facility tomorrow, said the change in preparation had been an important development.
“It’s pretty different to all the other ones,” Stanley said. “We came over at the start of June, did a meet, then to altitude for three weeks, another meet and a final training camp. So it has been a long time but it’s what’s necessary with our type of isolation, to get two really good race meetings in and an altitude camp.”
It was Stanley’s first stint at training at altitude in Sierra Nevada.
“It’s different. The first week you’re up there it’s a little bit harder than what it usually is down at sea level. You gasp for air a little bit, but I got used to it pretty quickly and I was back to pretty normal training by around a week, so the second two weeks I got a really really good base of hard training, and I think I’m going to gain a lot from it.”
He is confident that he is in the best shape of his life.
“I’m really happy with how it’s been going and now it’s just putting the icing on the cake and swimming fast. I don’t think that I could have done anything more so I’m really happy.”
Stanley will compete in the 200m and 400m freestyle, where he is the national champion over both distances and within the top 21 in the world.
“If I’m swimming well, both of them will go well, so they kind of complement each other,” he said.
He will also anchor the men’s 4x100m medley relay.
Swimming New Zealand High Performance Director Luis Villanueva is happy with the swimmers adaptability and acclimatisation.
“The swimmers have coped well with so many weeks away from home. They have enjoyed training and competing in different places, competing in Europe, and I think they will be well prepared,” said Villanueva.
In tomorrow’s opening session Stanley and Short Course World Champion Lauren Boyle compete in the 400m freestyle, fellow London Olympian will race in the 100m breaststroke while Sophia Batchelor swims in heats of the 100m butterfly.
Meanwhile Auckland’s Phillip Ryan completed the New Zealand campaign in open water competition when he finished 18th in the gruelling 25km event in the Vell Harbour in Barcelona.
Ryan started conservatively before pushing into the top-20 mid race and hanging on for a creditable performance in 4:50.57.
Germany’s Thomas Peter Lurz completed an outstanding week in taking out the gold medal in 4:27.27 after a sprint finish with Belgium’s Brian Ryckeman. It was his fourth medal following wins in the 5km and the team events and second in the 10km.
Swimming New Zealand team: Sophia Batchelor (100m butterfly, 50m butterfly, 200m backstroke), Matthew Stanley (200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, medley relay), Lauren Boyle (400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 1500m freestyle), Glenn Snyders (50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke, medley relay), Gareth Kean (50m backstroke, 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, medley relay), Samantha Lucie-Smith (100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 400m individual medley), Shaun Burnett (200m butterfly, medley relay), Samantha Lee (200m butterfly), Mitchell Donaldson (200m individual medley), Nathan Capp (400m individual medley).