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Large swim team exceeds expectations

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand Olympic Committee has announced tonight one of the biggest swimming teams ever for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The announcement by Chef de Mission Dave Currie came at the conclusion of the successful New Zealand Open Swimming Championships at West Wave Aquatic Centre, Waitakere.

A team of 12 was named tonight including seven individuals and the women's 4x200m freestyle relay team. There may be further additions to the team with the men's 4x200m freestyle relay, women's 4 x 100m freestyle relay and the men's 4x100m medley relay awaiting final confirmation from FINA and the open water swimmers to compete in their final selection race both in early June.

This compares with the previous biggest teams of 15 for the Beijing Olympics, 13 in Athens in 2004 and 14 in Atlanta in 1996.

The team includes eight performances currently ranked in the top 10 in the world to date this year. Five of the seven individuals named have qualified in multiple events. The line-up comprises 2008 Olympians Melissa Ingram, Glenn Snyders, Daniel Bell, Natasha Hind, Hayley Palmer and Lauren Boyle. Others to step up from the Delhi Commonwealth Games team include Gareth Kean, Amaka Gessler and Penelope Marshall. The newcomers are talented Wellington teenager Samantha Lucie-Smith and exciting 20 year old Matthew Stanley, who broke the long standing national records of Danyon Loader in the 200m and 400m freestyle to qualify.

Secretary General and selector Kereyn Smith said watching the athletes achieve the tough New Zealand Olympic Committee selection criteria during the week was satisfying. "I'd like to congratulate the group of athletes who have exceeded expectations this week," she said. "We look forward to this large team of swimmers making us proud in London."

Swimming New Zealand chairman Ross Butler said he is delighted with both the size and quality of the team.

"There have been some outstanding performances at the Olympic Trials and at pinnacle events, and the team going to London has more performances ranked in the top 10 in the world than any other New Zealand Olympic swimming team in recent times," Mr Butler said.

"That is a testament to the hard work and dedication from our swimmers and the expertise from our coaches and support staff around the country.

"The team not only has our proven performers but also some exciting young swimmers who will lead the drive for the future."

The New Zealand Olympic Committee says preparations are on track for a successful games in London and the organisation is providing the resources required to enable athletes to deliver on their potential.

Swimmer Daniel Bell is one of the six athletes benefiting from direct Olympic funding with a London Scholarship worth USD28,000.

New Zealand has a proud Olympic history in swimming. New Zealand's first gold medal was won by a swimmer and our first female Olympian represented New Zealand in the pool. Malcolm Champion together with three Australian team-mates won gold in the 4 x 200 yard freestyle at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games representing Australasia. Violet Walrond was just fifteen and one of our youngest athletes ever when she attended the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp. This was the first games New Zealand competed under a national flag.

Danyon Loader went on to secure New Zealand's second and third Olympic Gold medals in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympic Games in the 200m and 400m men's freestyle. He also won New Zealand's only silver medal in Olympic swimming at Barcelona in 1992.

New Zealand has a total of seven Olympic swimming medals (three gold, one silver and three bronze).

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