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The start of something extraordinary

Lewis Clareburt breaks the New Zealand Open Record in the Men's 400 IM

Lewis Clareburt from Capital Swim Club broke the New Zealand Open Record in the Men's 400 Individual Medley in tonight’s racing. Clareburt swam an incredible 4:09.87 seconds. The new record is over 2 seconds faster than the previous record (4:12.07 seconds), which Clareburt broke in 2019 when he claimed the Bronze medal at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. ⁠

Lewis had already met the Olympic standard in this event, which was set at 4:15.84. His time tonight was almost 6 seconds faster than the standard set! Congratulations to Lewis and his coach Gary Hollywood.⁠
Lewis’s performance was a great finale to day two of the 2021 Aon New Zealand Swimming Championships, which kicked off last night.
In yesterday’s timed finals, Zac Reid from Aquabladz took the win in the Men's 800m Freestyle, swimming the event in 8:00.34 seconds. Reid currently holds the New Zealand Open Record in this event (7:53.50), which he swam at last year’s 2020 ASA Open Championships in December. This time was within the qualification standard for the Tokyo Olympics.⁠
19-year-old Louis Clark from North Shore Swimming Club came second in the event, finishing in 8:08.26 seconds - a new personal best time for Clark. New Zealand’s 10km Open Water Swimming champion Joseph Stewart from Pirates Swim Club took third place with a time of 8:28.15.
Phoenix Aquatic’s Hayley Mcintosh was the Women’s 1500m Freestyle champion, swimming a personal best time of 16:35.11 seconds. The Olympic qualification time for this event is 16:32.04, so Hayley would need to shave off just over 3 seconds of this time to qualify. The next qualifying meet will be in Hamilton from 29 – 30th May next month.
Caitlin Deans from Neptune swim Club came second with a time of 16:37.01. Ruby Heath, also from Neptune came third place (17:33.14). Ruby is New Zealand’s 10km open water swimming champion.

The second day of the competition continued today with heats in the morning and finals in the evening.
2016 Olympian, Helena Gasson from Coast Swim Club was one to watch today in the Women’s 100m Backstroke. The Olympic Qualification standard for this event is 01:00.25. With a previous personal best of 01:01.36 seconds, Helena knocked off half a second in the heats, swimming 01:00.94. She then swam even faster in the finals, swimming the event in 1:00.81 seconds. Helena is also swimming in the Butterfly and Individual Medley events this week in hopes to clock a qualification time for Tokyo. We look forward to watching her race again!
The Men’s 100m Backstroke had a good line up. Andrew Jeffcoat from Pukekohe Swim Club came in first with a time of 54.89 seconds in the final, after swimming a personal best of 54.64 in the morning heats. Zac Dell, also from Pukekohe came in second after improving his personal best from the morning again and swimming 55.25 in the finals. Kane Follows from North Shore was third with a time of 55.38.

18-year-old Gina McCarthy from Hamilton Aquatics took the gold in the Women’s 400 Individual Medley as well as breaking a new New Zealand Age Group Record. Gina swam the event in 4:47.19 seconds. She beat the time (4:47.75), which was set as the standard by Swimming New Zealand when the records originated.
The 50m Freestyle races took place tonight with George Williams from Coast Swim Club taking the win in the Men’s event and 16-year-old Laura Littlejohn from St Paul’s Swimming Club winning the Women’s. Williams swam a personal best of 22.99 seconds and Littlejohn, who also swam a PB, finished in 25.59 seconds.
17-year-old Taiko Torepe-Ormsby from Wharenui Swim Club took the silver in the Men’s 50m Freestyle, swimming a personal best time of 23:30. Taiko would need to shave off just under a second to beat Michael Pickets standing age-group record of 22.37 seconds.

It was a solid day for the Paralympics High Performance Team, with all of the four swimmers in action achieving Minimum Qualifying Standards (MQS) for Tokyo 2020. Tupou Neiufi (Women’s 100 Backstroke S8), Sophie Pascoe (Women’s 100 Backstroke S9), Jesse Reynolds (Men’s 100 Backstroke S9) and Nikita Howarth (Women’s 50 Butterfly S7). All para swimmers posted times making them eligible for nomination.
For Jesse and Nikita, their heat swims were fractions off their PBs, and while they couldn’t improve for the finals, they set themselves as 4th and 6th respectively in the world rankings over the past two years of Paralympic qualifying. In her final, Tupou swam comfortably her best time since winning silver in the 2019 World Championships, to be right on her goal time for this competition and set as 3rd in the world rankings.
Graeme Maw, the Para Swimming Programme Leader says, “These Championships are a critical selection meet and a stepping stone to Tokyo, with the overriding goal being to secure nomination while continuing to prepare. So, while none of the above are PBs, in ongoing preparation they are good indicators of tracking.”
In the overall scheme of events, there were excellent performances from 14-year-old Wharenui youngster, Gabriella Smith (S10), who took 3.2 seconds off her PB, winning silver in the Women’s 100 Backstroke behind Tupou. Another fellow Wharenui youngster, 15-year-old Lili-Fox Mason (S10) shaved 1.4 seconds off her PB, claiming the bronze medal in the Women’s 50 Butterfly behind Sophie and Nikita.
Lance Dunstow of Greendale Swim Club (S14) was 1.5 seconds off his PB and claimed his very first NZ Open title in the Men’s 50 Butterfly.


Morning sessions start at 11:10 am with evening finals sessions starting at 7:10 pm.

RESULTS: All results are available here.

VISION: All finals will be shown LIVE on Sky Sport 9, channel 59. Heats and finals are live-streamed and FREE to watch on the Sky Sport Next YouTube Page.
COVERAGE: There will be a daily wrap with highlights, results and images after final sessions. This will be shared on the website, via email and on social media.

PHOTOGRAPHY: All event photos are to be credited by BW Media.