Podium placings for AquaBlack swimmers in France

World short course champion Lauren Boyle led the way for the Kiwi swimming contingent at the French Open at the weekend.

The competition served as the last hit out for the State AquaBlacks squad before the FINA World Championships begin in Barcelona on 24 July.

Boyle took out the 800m freestyle followed by a second placing in the 400m freestyle and third in the 200m freestyle.

Teammates Gareth Kean and Matthew Stanley won silver medals in their respective events, while rookies Nathan Capp and Samantha Lee stepped on to the international swimming scene with podium finishes.

Boyle clocked the third fastest time in the world this year in winning the 800m freestyle in 8:23.08 with a time just outside her personal best, set at the London Olympics last year where she finished fourth. She led the race from start to finish, impressively setting a negative split in her specialist event.

Twenty minutes later Boyle was back in the pool to claim the bronze in the 200m freestyle behind Olympic silver medallist Camille Muffat and her French teammate Charlotte Bonnet.

The best tussle came with the Boyle-Muffat showdown in the 400m freestyle that saw the two women go head to head, swapping the lead throughout the race. But Muffat edged ahead of Boyle in the closing laps to win in 4.04.09 with the New Zealander only 15/100ths of a second behind.

Commonwealth Games silver medallist Kean proved that he is back on form after winning silver in the 100m and 200m backstroke. The 100m saw Kean stand up against French 2011 joint world champions Camille Lacourt and Jeremy Stravius. Trailing the world champions at the 50m turn, Kean reeled in Lacourt on the home lap to touch in 54.86, just behind Stravius.

London Olympian Stanley produced two solid swims in the 200m and 400m freestyle, winning silver medals in both events. Stanley was out-touched by Marco Belotti of Italy in the 200m, while his team-mate Steven Kent grabbed third.

Stanley finished second in the 400m freestyle when Canadian Olympic medallist Ryan Cochrane claimed the win in the only sub-3:50 effort of the meet. Cochrane clocked 3:49.67 while Stanley produced a 3:51.39.

Capp and Lee produced some promising performances to pick up three medals between them. Capp won bronze in his favoured 400m individual medley event as well as the 1500m freestyle. Lee claimed silver in her specialist 200m butterfly in a time of 2:14.08.

The New Zealand team will head to their staging camp in Castellon, Spain for final preparations for the world championships.

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