20 Jul 2016

Lauren Boyle and the Swim Team

5:26 am on 20 July 2016

One of our most closely-watched athletes in Rio will be Lauren Boyle, so rare it is for a New Zealand swimmer to pick up an Olympic medal in one of the world's most competitive sports.

Lauren Boyle heads a list of eight swimmers nominated for Rio.

Lauren Boyle heads a list of eight swimmers nominated for Rio. Photo: Photosport

It has been 20 years in fact since Danyon Loader won two golds at the Atlanta Olympics.

Boyle made everyone stand up and take notice when she just missed out on a medal in the 800m freestyle final at the Olympic Games four years ago.

It was a pivotal moment for the 28-year-old, who by her own later admission, did not fully believe she could compete with the world heavyweights.

Instead of disappointment an emotional Boyle walked away from the pool in London thrilled to come so close.

If anything it has spurred her on to become one of New Zealand's greatest swimmers.

In 2013 she claimed three medals (all Bronze) at the World Championships in Barcelona, becoming only the second New Zealander to do so (after Danyon Loader) and the first woman.

She went on to surpass Danyon's world championship tally at the 2015 World Championships claiming silver in the 800m and 1500m freestyle.

In 2014 Boyle became the first New Zealander to win three medals at a single Pan Pacific Championship.

She has competed at three Commonwealth Games, winning a gold medal in the 400m freestyle and a silver medal in the 800m freestyle at Glasgow in 2014.

In 2014 Lauren became only the fourth New Zealand swimmer to set a world record when she broke the 1500m freestyle short course record.

Boyle is set to become just the fourth Kiwi swimmer to attend three Olympic Games and is attempting to become the first New Zealander since Danyon Loader in 1996 to medal in an Olympic swimming event.

Boyle will compete in both the 400m and 800m freestyle, events that American sensation Katie Ledecky is heavily favoured for.

The defending Olympic 800m freestyle champion pipped Boyle in both the 800m and 1500m freestyle events at the World Champs last year.

Breaststroke specialist Glenn Snyders will also become a three-time Olympian and his goal is firmly on making the 100m breaststroke final in Rio, knowing anything can happen from there.

Snyders qualified for the semi-final of the 100m breaststroke in London but could not back that up with a big swim to progress to the final.

Snyders, who is now based in Los Angeles where he trains under renowned coach Dave Salo, has made strides, finishing 5th in the 50m and 100m breaststroke at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Snyders won his first Pan Pacific Championship medal in 2014 on the Gold Coast, claiming bronze in the 100m breaststroke.

Matthew Stanley, who swam in the 200m and 400m freestyle in London, is heading to his second Olympics.

Bradlee Ashby, Helena Gasson, Matthew Hutchins, Corey Main and Emma Robinson will be heading to their first Olympics.

Open-water swimmer Kane Radford was a late edition to the team after a successful appeal to the New Zealand Sports Tribunal.

He boosts the New Zealand swimming team to nine for Rio and will become the country's first Olympic open-water swimmer when he suits up off the Rio's Copacabana coastline on 15 August.

NZ's Rio swim team

Bradlee Ashby, 200m individual medley

Lauren Boyle, 400m/800m freestyle

Helena Glasson, 100m butterfly

Matt Hutchins, 400m freestyle

Corey Main, 100m backstroke

Emma Robinson, 800m freestyle

Glenn Snyders, 100m breaststroke

Matt Stanley, 200m/400m freestyle

Kane Radford, 10km Open-Water

NZ Olympic swimming medals

Atlanta 1996

Danyon Loader Gold 200m Freestyle

Gold 400m Freestyle

Barcelona 1992

Danyon Loader Silver 200m Butterfly

Seoul 1988

Paul Kingsman Bronze 200m Backstroke

Anthony Mosse Bronze 200m Butterfly

Helsinki 1952

Jean Stewart Bronze 100m Backstroke

Stockholm 1912

Malcolm Champion Gold 4x 200m Freestyle Relay