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The start of something extraordinary

Seven New Zealand swimmers to make Olympic debut in Tokyo

Swimming New Zealand wants to congratulate seven young swimmers, who have been named to the swimming team for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The swimming team to represent New Zealand at Tokyo 2020 is:

  • Lewis Clareburt, 200m & 400m Individual Medley (Capital Swim Club/Wellington), coached by Gary Hollywood 

  • Zac Reid, 400m & 800m Freestyle (Aquabladz/New Plymouth), coached by Sue Southgate

  • Erika Fairweather, 200 & 400 Freestyle, 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay (Neptune Swim Club/Dunedin), coached by Lars Humer and Kurt Crosland

  • Eve Thomas, 800m & 1500m Freestyle, 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay (Coast Swim Club/Auckland) coached by Dean Boxall out of St Peters Western

  • Hayley McIntosh, 1500m (Phoenix Aquatics/Auckland), coached by David Lyles

  • Ali Galyer, 100m & 200m Backstroke, 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay (Coast Swim Club/Auckland) coached by Arthur Albiero out of University of Louisville

  • Carina Doyle, 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay (North Shore Swimming Club/Auckland) coached by Andy McMillan

All seven of the athletes will be making their Olympic debuts at Tokyo. The most decorated member of the team is medley swimmer, Lewis Clareburt – who claimed the bronze medal in the Men’s 400m IM at the 2019 FINA World Championships.

“I'm so stoked to finally be named after what has felt like a never ending campaign," said Clareburt.

"It’s a really difficult challenge to get to the Olympic Games so I'm extremely proud to be a part of the New Zealand Team for Tokyo along with my six teammates on the swim team. Now it’s time to fine tune our craft and get the job done!”

The New Zealand record holder lowered his Olympic entry time in the 400m IM this year, which not only broke the New Zealand record, but also broke an Oceania record, currently placing him third in the world rankings. Lewis also qualified and will race in the 200m distance IM.

17-year-old Erika Fairweather is a contender for the youngest New Zealand athlete at the Olympic Games. The Dunedin Kavanagh College student says she's thrilled to be heading to her first Olympic Games.

“The feeling of making my first Olympic team is still so surreal. I've worked so hard for this moment and it is all coming together – it’s so exciting!" said Fairweather.

"Representing New Zealand and wearing the fern at the Olympic Games is a dream I've had for as long as I can remember, so words don't really do this feeling justice.”

Erika competed in the 2019 FINA World Championships and was the youngest swimmer (age 15 at the time) to make top 20 for the 200m and 400m Freestyle distances.

She went on to win gold in the 200m Freestyle event at the 2019 World Junior Championships the following month. Erika has been selected to swim the 200 and 400m Freestyle events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Eve Thomas and Hayley McIntosh will swim the longest of distance races; Eve in the 800m and 1500m Freestyle and Hayley, also the 1500m Freestyle. Both women previously focused on the 800m distance but have since shifted their focus to the longest distance of 1500m, a distance which wasn’t raced at all by women at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Eve is the daughter of Sarah Thomas, née Hardcastle, who was Britain’s youngest Olympic medallist, when at 15 she won silver and bronze freestyle medals at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

New Plymouth based swimmer Zac Reid is a middle-distance swimmer who will swim in the 400m and 800m Freestyle events. The last time Zac was in Tokyo was for the FINA World Cup in 2019. Zac placed second in the Men’s 400m Freestyle, bringing home the silver medal.

Backstroke swimmer, Ali Galyer is based in the US after graduating from University of Kentucky in Lexington last year. Ali first represented New Zealand at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, finishing 8th in the 200m Backstroke.

It was the following year, at the 2019 FINA World Championships in South Korea, where Ali made the semi-final in the 200m Backstroke event, and she clocked a qualification time for Tokyo 2020. Ali will also swim the 100m Backstroke event in Tokyo.

The seventh member of the team is Auckland based swimmer, Carina Doyle, who will join the New Zealand team to swim in the Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay alongside Eve, Ali and Erika.

Carina, Erika and Eve were part of the team who secured the quota spot at the 2019 FINA World Championships. The team finished 10th overall.

Swimming New Zealand Chief Executive Steve Johns sent his support to the swimming team before they head off to Tokyo next month.

“We are extremely proud of the seven swimmers selected to compete in Tokyo and their individual pathways that they have taken to earn selection to the team. It has been a hugely challenging build-up but while all the swimmers will be making their Olympic debut, they are all experienced on the world stage and are all highly motivated to succeed at the Olympic level," said Johns.

"We also acknowledge the guidance and support that the swimmers individual coaches have provided them on their road to Tokyo and the effort and sacrifice that they have made to get their swimmers onto the Olympic team. 

The best wishes and support from the entire Swimming NZ community is with the swimmers and coaching team that head to Tokyo next month and we wish them every success that they so thoroughly deserve.”

NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith extended her congratulations to the athletes.

"It's fantastic to have a talented bunch of Olympic debutants ready to wear the fern and represent us in the pool in Tokyo. We wish you all the best for the rest of your preparation and we look forward to seeing you in action at the Games in just over a month," said Smith.

New Zealand has won a total of 8 Olympic medals in swimming. The last medals brought home were by Danyon Loader from the Atlanta 1996 Olympics where he won two gold medals - one in the 200m and another in the 400m Freestyle events.

Swimming New Zealand Targeted and Athlete Coaches Manager Gary Francis has been appointed Team Leader of the swimming team for the Tokyo Olympics. Lars Humer will be the Head Olympic Coach.