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The start of something extraordinary


Veteran and rookie join forces in new-look New Zealand team

The experienced and the rookies join forces tomorrow as the New Zealand swim team begin their campaign at the 17th FINA World Championships in Hungary.

Matt Stanley lines-up in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team on the first day of the championships tomorrow evening (NZ time) in Budapest alongside Corey Main, Daniel Hunter and newcomer Sam Perry.

While there is only three years between the 24-year-old Stanley and fellow his fellow Waikato counterpart Perry, he is competing in his fourth biennial world championships. Stanley, who moved to the Bond University club on the Gold Coast last year, is excited about the championships and his role on the team.

“It does not change my approach too much but I am more conscious what I am doing because people look to me for guidance now which is great,” Stanley said.

“The environment is great and the staging camp in Slovakia was fantastic. There are 10 people in the team who are hard-working and dedicated. It has come together well and I think we will execute well in the pool.

Stanley will compete in the freestyle relay on the first day and his favoured 200m freestyle on day two where he hopes he can achieve his best times since he set the national record of 1:47:09 nearly three years ago.

Perry, 21, comes into the team for the first time, but is no stranger to big-time meets. He will return to the famed Stanford University near San Francisco after the meet for his senior year and such is his contribution to the programme, that he has been voted a team captain. While the sprinter has competed in a number of major collegiate meets in the US, this experience is different.

“It is pretty crazy. You can tell even with the big names walking around they are 100 percent focussed. It’s pretty cool and inspiring to see them at a meet where they care so much,” Perry said.

A challenge for American-based swimmers is the change from a programme dominated by short-course imperial measure to long-course metrics.

“I will do what I’ve always done in my prep for a trials meet, which has been yards-focussed but this time I done more long course prep which I hope will pay off. We have two 50m pools at Stanford so I do long course three to four mornings a week so it is not unfamiliar.

“Given it is my first big international meet, I just hope to do some best times and see where that puts me. I would be nice to make a semifinal and get a night swim but depends on what everyone else does. I am just going to focus on doing my best times and see where that puts me.”

The US system is strongly based on the camaraderie within the team, and he feels there’s a strong bond already in the Kiwi camp.

“We all know eachother quite well. The team has come together really well. The training camp in Slovakia was fun and everyone is getting on so well. Now it is a matter of honing in on the meet and get focussed.”
Perry will also compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly.

Also in action on the first day are Rio Olympians Emma Robinson in the 400m freestyle and Helena Gasson in the 200m individual medley.

Head Coach Jerry Olszewski is pleased with the preparations and the team attitude.

“They have worked really hard for this but at the same time we’ve focussed a lot on it being fun and creating an enjoyable atmosphere,” he said. “Our focus is on swimming to our potential, doing best times and improving our rankings.”

The World Championships has attracted 3000 athletes competing in six different disciples over 17 days, highlighted by the pool competition at the new Dagaly Swimming Complex.

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