New Zealand backstroke stars Daniel Bell and Gareth Kean drove each other to qualifying swims on the second night of the State Insurance New Zealand Championships in Auckland tonight.
The pair both went under the FINA A time to qualify for July’s world championships in Shanghai which takes the number of qualifiers to five after two days.
Kean, 19 (Capital) had matched the qualifying time in topping the morning heats in 55.14 with Bell disappointed with his effort of 55.37 to be second fastest.
Bell (HPC North Shore), coached by Scott Talbot, made no mistake in the final with a superb start from where he dominated the race, winning in 54.40 with Kean finishing strongly after giving up two lengths off the blocks for second place in 55.02.
Bell, who won the silver medal in this race at the Commonwealth Games, said he was pleased to qualify but recent illness had probably cost a faster time.
“I got the qualifying time and that books my ticket to Shanghai. It was the same time as last year and I have been training a lot faster than that,” Bell said.
“I’m still on antibiotics. To go that time when you are sick is an accomplishment but I am not one to make excuses though. I’ve got a lot faster time in me. I can’t complain.”
Bell said racing Kean has made him a better swimmer.
“It definitely improves me. With Gareth and also Kurt Bassett back in the pool there’s fantastic competition in backstroke. There are not a lot of events in New Zealand where there’s so much depth and it helps push us forward and we know we can’t have a bad day.”
Kean, coached by Gary Hurring, was pleased to beat the qualifying time in the 100m.
“It means I can focus on the 200m on Thursday which is my main race and I can enjoy it,” Kean said. “That’s a positive and it’s pretty awesome.
“The rivalry with Gareth and Kurt is great and means we don’t have to go overseas to get competition. It’s in our backyard and that’s great.
“It helps us pursue our goals and helps us every time we get to race each other.”
However Kean may have to wait for his selection with Swimming New Zealand having received three requests for exemption for swimmers not to compete at the championships. Backstroker Kurt Bassett, freestyler Michael Jack and Youth Commonwealth Games hopeful Matthew Hutchins have been granted dispensation and their eligibility for selection will be determined by the selectors in due course.
Olympian Melissa Ingram took out the women’s 100m backstroke but went marginally slower than her morning heat and missed out on qualifying for Shangahi. The 200m backstroke specialist went under the qualifying time in the morning heat in a 1:01.61 but was 2/10ths slower tonight to head off 200m individual medley qualifier Natalie Wiegersma (Waverley) and Christchurch 15 year old Sophia Batchelor (AquaGym).
Christchurch 15 year old Natasha Lloyd added the 100m breaststroke title to the 200m crown she won last year, with her winning time of 1:11.78 breaking her own national age group record.
There was a changing of the guard in the men’s 200m freestyle with Youth Olympic representative Matt Stanley (HPC Matamata) taking out the title in 1:50.25 ahead of visitor Velimir Sjepanvic from Serbia and 400m freestyle winner Dylan Dunlop-Barrett.
Queensland-based Cara Baker (Howick Pakuranga), who has already qualified for the open water 10km at Shanghai, won the 1500m freestyle final 16:25.77.
The meet continues until Friday.
Day 2 Finals Results:
Women’s 100m backstroke: Melissa Ingram (HPC North Shore) 1:01.81, 1; Natalie Wiegersma (Waverley) 1:02.03, 2; Sophia Batchelor (AquaGym) 1:02.25, 3.
Men’s 200m freestyle: Matthew Stanley (HPC Matamata) 1:50.25, 1; Velimir Stepanovic 1:50.78 2, Dylan Dunlop-Barrett 1:51.17, 3.
Women’s 100m breaststroke: Natasha Lloyd (Aquagym) 1:11.78, 1; Kelly Briden (QEII) 1:12.63, 2; Grace Francis (North Shore) 1:12.68.
Men 100m backstroke: Daniel Bell (HPC North Shore) 54.40 (world champs qualifying), 1; Gareth Kean (Capital) 55.02 (world champs qualifying), 2; Corey Main (Howick Pakuranga) 57.53, 3.
Women 1500m freestyle: Cara Baker (Howick Pakuranga) 16:25.77 (NZ record), 1; Stefannie Gillespie 17:22.69; 2; Bridget Maher 17:40.79, 3.
Full details: www.swimmingnz.org.nz