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The start of something extraordinary

Gasson grabs qualifying effort on first morning of swim champs

Rio Olympian Helena Gasson became the first swimmer under the qualifying mark for the World Championships on the opening morning of heats at the New Zealand Open Championships in Auckland.

Gasson, from the Coast club who swims with Swimming New Zealand’s high performance squad, was fastest in heats of the 50m butterfly in 26.45s, which was 4/100ths under the qualifying time for the world championships to be held in Budapest in July.

It highlighted the morning session of the championships which double as the trials for the world championships, Youth Commonwealth Games and the World University games, with 230 swimmers competing from 43 clubs and visitors from seven nations at the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre.

Fellow Rio Olympians Matthew Hutchins and Matt Stanley were fastest in heats of the 400m freestyle. Hutchins, who swims on scholarship at the University of Wisconsin, clocked 3:49.20 in his heat to be one second outside the qualifying time for Budapest with Stanley second fastest in 3:50.85.

Auckland’s Annabelle Paterson from the United Club, topped qualifiers in the women’s 200m backstroke in 2:15.77, while US-based Corey Main, from Howick Pakuranga club, was only 0.3s outside the qualifying time in the men’s 200m backstroke in 1:58.87.

Another Howick Pakuranga swimmer Daniel Hunter was fastest in heats of the 50m butterfly in 24.42 ahead of US-based Waikato swimmer Sam Perry in 24.53, as they chase 23.67s for the qualifying time.

The heats begin daily at 10am and the finals from 7pm. The first day (Monday) and all heats sessions will be streamed live on Swimming New Zealand’s website with the remaining four days of finals live on SKY TV.

CAPTION: Helena Gasson qualifies for the World Championships in the 50m butterfly. 

NZ Open Championships   FINA World Championships