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Boyle brilliant after losing NZ coach

March 23, 2013
Lauren Boyle on the podium after winning the 800m title at the short-course world championships in Turkey.

Lauren Boyle on the podium after winning the 800m title at the short-course world championships in Turkey.

In her own words, there are many unknowns to be met over the next few months – most importantly, who Swimming New Zealand will assign as head coach.

But, Lauren Boyle‘s international clout continues to develop in the face of a testing environment.

With Kiwi swimming’s administration still only baby-steps into a full rebuild from an asinine squabble, which, among other things, saw the entire board resign en masse, Boyle was recently dealt a serious curveball when coach, Mark Regan, resigned shortly after she was crowned world short course champion in December.

It’s widely considered Regan jumped before he was pushed – further political ructions which have dragged elite athletes, through absolutely no fault of their own, into a distracting and disruptive situation.

Cushioning the fallout, 25-year-old Boyle, who last night was again crowned New Zealand swimmer of the year, was able to escape for a three-week altitude camp in Sierra Nevada, Spain.

But, entering last week’s national championships almost immediately after the heavy European training trip, she was cautious, nervous even, over how much was left in the tank for the only chance to post world championship qualifying times.

And, in an attempt to push herself further, Boyle was also taking on all six freestyle events between 100m and 1500m for the first time as a collective.

Claiming gold in all and posting world qualifying times in the longest five, Boyle drew a thick line under her rise over the last two years in her final race of the West Auckland regatta.

Surprised at almost matching the 800m time which saw her finish fourth at the London Olympics, Boyle was straight back on the blocks for the 100m final. She won, in a personal best time, and, edged Olympic sprint specialist Hayley Palmer.

“Coming in I didn’t really know what to expect because I’ve never done altitude training so close to a meet before. I didn’t know if I would be too tired,” Boyle told the Sunday Star-Times.

“Obviously I wanted to qualify for the world championships and when that happened on the first day it was really relieving. I was able to change my mindset from being freaked-out about qualifying to figuring ways I could challenge myself.

“It’s been a really successful week. I didn’t think I was going to go that fast, particularly in the 800m, I was really close to that Olympic time.

“And, I haven’t done a best time in the 100m since 2006 and I took quarter of a second off, I’m really happy. I’d never done that number of events before and thought I might just try it, especially having all that training under my belt.

“It was fun and exciting week. One thing I’ve really taken away is you just don’t know what your limits are.

“It’s really made me confident in my independence. Mark would have been proud of me doing so many races and trying to control them. I’m really glad that I could do so well over the last week without him here, but it’s still hard.”

Boyle also said seeing a new training environment, particularly insight into the Spanish women’s team – whose Mireia Belmonte Garcia won 800m silver in London, has also helped provide new perspective and motivation.

“Spain was interesting. There were just so many kilometres, I know I’ve put in the hard yards,” she said.

“Their women’s team is pretty strong. They had two girls in the 800m at the Olympics and another in the 200m fly – they’re meaty events, so all three were pretty good trainers.

“It was inspiring to see just how much they did because it made me realise I could probably push my boundaries a bit more.

“Some aspects of my training have been better than that, but at the same time, I only saw a three-week snapshot.”

In just over 100 days, Boyle will lead a 14-strong team of qualifiers to the Barcelona world championships. And while she, and the rest of the high performance squad, must wait to learn who will be their head coach, Boyle is at least comfortable in her own work.

“I just want to carry on improving at the world championships. Not only my times but self-management as well. I’ve been able to do that at this competition, it’s been pretty interesting for me to see how well I could back up all my races,” she said.

“I won’t have the same size schedule there but at least I know I can handle something this tough.

“There are so many unknowns coming over the next few months, it’s a difficult situation to gauge in terms of performance. It’s been pretty rocky until now.

“Apparently there’s a new coach coming, I think it’s best if I just see what that’s like. To reduce any stress, I might as well wait to see how it works out.

“It’s possible it could work out really well.”


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