2 Aug 2016

Public expectations no match for Boyle's

4:45 pm on 2 August 2016

Sports Call - The New Zealand public may have high expectations for Olympic medal hope Lauren Boyle as she heads to Rio, but they are nothing on what the swimmer puts on herself.

Boyle will be one of our most closely watched athletes in Rio as she attempts to become the first New Zealander in 20 years to medal in an Olympic swimming event.

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

Lauren Boyle Photo: Photosport

It would be a rare feat in one of the world's most competitive sports but Boyle said the most important thing for her was walking away from Rio with no regrets.

When Boyle emerged from the pool in London four year's ago after coming fourth in the 800m freestyle, instead of devastation at missing out on an Olympic medal, an emotional Boyle was thrilled she had come so close.

It was a pivotal moment for the 28-year-old, which proved she could compete with the world's heavyweights.

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

She went on to surpass Danyon Loader's world championship tally at last year's meet claiming silver in the 800m and 1500m freestyle.

Boyle's New Zealand based coach is Graeme Laing, the son of Duncan Laing, who coached Loader to his two gold medals in Atlanta in 1996.

Laing said Boyle will be as prepared as she can be.

"Her training ethics, you know she trains really hard, she turns up all the time and she does extra and of course that makes you a lot stronger in the mind as well," said Laing.

New Zealand swimming team coach Gary Hurring said a big focus for everyone was to make personal best times and to get as many swimmers as possible into semi-finals.

He said reaching the top 16 in the world in swimming was very tough in such a global sport.

Despite Boyle's recent success, Hurring said there were no guarantees and people probably did not realise just how hard it was to win an Olympic medal in swimming.

"I think a lot of people think that a lot of sports are very, very even across the board at Olympic level and I don't really think people realise how different each sport can be but definitely swimming's a tough one," said Hurring.

Danyon Loader on the podium. Swimming. Atlanta Olympics 1996.

Danyon Loader on the podium. Swimming. Atlanta Olympics 1996. Photo: Photosport

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

Hurring said anything could happen at the Olympics and it was important no one hero-worshipped any rivals, or made assumptions before a race started.

Hurring said Boyle was good at soaking up pressure and would cope well under the spotlight.

"She's very experienced now, she's been to many world class campaigns and she's always excelling at that level. You know she steps up to the pressure and she performs very well time after time, so yeah you'd had to definitely tick that box."

Eighteen months ago Boyle moved to the Gold Coast where she has been training under Australian distance guru Denis Cotterell.

Boyle, who went through a succession of different coaches, said it had been a good move for her.

The Commonwealth Games 400m freestyle gold medallist said since London, the level of competition in her events had gone up whole new level.

"In my events there are probably 10 to 12 women who are capable of being in that top three so it's an extremely competitive and deep competition. For me it's more about having my best performance and walking away with no regrets," said Boyle.

She hopes public expectations on her come in the form of support.

"And I hope that people are happy for me no matter how well I do or what happens over there because I give my best every day to try and do my best in Rio. For me it's more about knowing that when I'm there I've done the best that I could."

Breaststroke specialist Glenn Snyders will become a three-time Olympian in Rio, with his goal firmly on making the 100m final.

Matthew Stanley, who also trains with Boyle on the Gold Coast, is heading to his second Olympics.

The nine strong swim team are in camp in the US prior to heading to Rio for the biggest meet in the world.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.