Sunday, February 10, 2008

Stop, tread, go home, re-tool: NZ Open Water Swimmers won't be in Spain

11th February 2008

Open water swimmers need further nurturing

Swimming New Zealand won’t be sending any open water swimmers to this year’s World Championships in Spain.

The selectors decided that the current crop of talented young open water swimmers need to be nurtured through an international pathway aimed at the 2012 Olympics.

The New Zealand swimmers did not come up to world standard at last week’s Oceania Open Water Championships to force selection to Spain, which is the major selection event for Beijing.

Rotorua’s Kane Radford finished in second place, Philip Ryan (Auckland) fourth and Joyce Wiegersma (Southland) third behind the Australians in the 10km at Lake Okataina last weekend.

“All three are excellent young prospects but based on their swims last weekend the selectors believe they are not yet at a standard to warrant selection to the World Championships this year,” Swimming New Zealand’s Clive Rushton said.

“We do recognise that they are real talents for the future but they need much more experience in top international open water swimming before they could expect to prosper at the World Championships. And we will look to see how we can assist to get them on the FINA World Cup open water circuit to gain much more international experience.”

The selectors took into account the overall standard of the Oceania field and also the expected quality of this year’s World Championships, where a top-10 finish will be required to qualify for Beijing.

The Oceania 10km winner Trent Grimsey was 16th in the Australian 10km Championships, while the event in Spain will draw an extremely strong field including the likes of three time Olympic gold medalist Grant Hackett and Olympic and World bronze medalist David Davies.

“The World Championship will be highly competitive and it is unrealistic to believe that any of the New Zealand swimmers would be a top-10 candidate in Spain.”

Radford is the best of the New Zealanders, placing 36th at the World Championship Open Water Swim in Melbourne last year, with the field expected to be substantially more competitive in Spain as the Olympic qualifier.

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