Two of swimming’s legendary figures are providing Lauren Boyle with inspiration as she eyes next year’s Olympics.
Boyle’s chances of winning gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro appear a long-shot – despite being a world-class performer, the 27-year-old is contesting the distance freestyle events dominated by American superstar Katie Ledecky.
The 18-year-old holds women’s freestyle world records at 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m and won gold in the 800m at the 2012 London Olympics when Boyle finished fourth.
Ledecky has clearly held the upper hand over Boyle in recent years, but the Kiwi has nothing but admiration for her.
“The way she’s performed – she won the Olympic gold medal when she was 15 – I think she’s done a lot for the sport of swimming; especially for females,” Boyle said.
“She’s really pushed boundaries past what I think even a lot of coaches believed were . . . not maybe possible, but I don’t know if many people thought those kind of times were possible this soon.
“I think it’s really exciting – it shows what the human body is capable of.
Far from being dispirited by Ledecky’s dominance, Boyle counts herself fortunate to be a rival.
“I’m honoured that I get to swim in her races, because she could well be the swimmer of our generation – the female [Michael] Phelps. She’s an amazing swimmer.””