Tainui swimmer Lewis Clareburt has broken the New Zealand open record in the men’s 400m individual medley at the national swimming championships this week.
On Tuesday, the 21-year-old, from Mōtakotako Marae in Raglan, raced a time of 4:09.87 seconds, not only breaking the New Zealand record but also six seconds inside the Olympic qualifying time of 4:15.84.
The new record is also over two seconds faster than the previous record of 4:12.07 seconds, which Clareburt broke in 2019 when he claimed the bronze medal at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
“It’s always nice to get a better time than you did a few years ago. I wasn't really expecting it too much but to pull it off was pretty nice,” he says.
Clareburt represented New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, winning a bronze medal both times in the men's 400m individual medley .The New Zealand Olympic Committee still needs to nominate the athletes travelling to the Tokyo Olympics but Clareburt’s chances are high.
“If I get the opportunity I’ll take advantage of it. I’ll have a good time and will hopefully swim fast," Clareburt says.
“Going into the Olympics with a time of 4.09 and the rest of the world knowing what they could do definitely gives you more confidence leading in. But also it can give you a little bit more pressure but I try not to look at it that way.”
On Thursday night Clareburt also broke a New Zealand open record in the 100m freestyle, swimming 48.96 seconds in the first leg of the men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay. The previous record of 49.11 was held by Daniel Hunter from HPK.
Clareburt wasn’t far off the Olympic Qualification standard for this event (48.57). He is sixth seed in the individual event on Saturday. Top seeds for this event are Tyron Henry from Pukekohe Swim Club and Zac Reid from Aquabladz.
Clareburt represents Capital Swim Club in Wellington and trains up to 20 hours in the pool and an additional five to six hours in the gym per week.
“It’s obviously a little tough. You don’t always have the motivation every day but as long as you put in a good effort. It’s a little more training than I was expecting when I was doing my other sport,” he says.
Clareburt also studies commerce at the Victoria University and says he's grateful for the support from Sport New Zealand to help him with his commitments.
“There’s a pretty awesome team behind them and they support me every day in what I do.”
The AON National Swim Championships will take place in Auckland this week with the final day on Saturday.