Swimming : Boyle puts a brave face on the Ledecky era

Thu Aug 4, 2016 3:00pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Lauren Boyle, New Zealand's top swimming hope at the Rio Olympics, has a problem and it is called Katie Ledecky.

There are racing certainties and then there is the 19-year-old American freestyle phenomenon who looks set for a golden haul in the Rio pool.

The American has smashed the 800 meters world record four times in three years, taking Briton Rebecca Adlington's previous benchmark of eight minutes and 14.10 seconds down to the current 8:06.68.

The fastest time by anyone else this year is 8:18.14 and Boyle's best is 8.25.00 -- some way off her personal best of 8:17.65 when she took silver at the 2015 world championships, more than 10 seconds behind Ledecky.

Reigning Olympic 800m champion Ledecky also holds the world records in 400 and 1,500m freestyle.

Boyle, who has had sickness issues to contend with but is now fully fit and hoping to end New Zealand's 20-year wait for an Olympic swimming medal, preferred to emphasize the positives.

"I think I'm very lucky to race someone like Ledecky and be part of her era and see what she's capable of," the 28-year-old told reporters on Thursday.

"I think it really shows me and other athletes that swim those events what's really possible for women's swimming.   Continued...

Lauren Boyle of New Zealand poses with her silver medal after the women's 800m freestyle final at the Aquatics World Championships in Kazan, Russia, August 8, 2015. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke