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Wellingtonian swimmer Lewis Clareburt set the Tokyo Olympic pool abuzz tonight with a sizzling personal best in his 400m individual medley heat.

Clareburt recorded 4min 09.49s to qualify second fastest for tomorrow’s final behind Australian Brendan Smith (4min 09.27s) for the final.

Clareburt recently broke his personal record by more than two seconds when he swam 4min 09.87s at the national championships. To go so much faster again and in a heat at that, emphasises his ability.

Afterwards Clareburt rated his performance at just 2 out of 10, explaining he feels he has a lot more in the tank.

“I was happy with that,” he said. “I thought I went out a bit slow, but I stuck to it in the breaststroke and then had enough to come back at those guys in the freestyle. It’s nice to get the first race over and done with.”

Clareburt broke the race apart on the backstroke leg, when he outpaced American Chase Kalisz, his closest challenger. The New Zealand’s times for each 100m leg were 56.48s (butterfly), 1min 03.23s (backstroke), 1min 11.66s (backstroke), 58.12s (freestyle).

Though no swimmer even approached the 2008 world record of human fish Michael Phelps (4min 03.84s), Clareburt certainly looked as good as any swimmer in this event – his favourite - in Tokyo and his steep graph of improvement is hugely encouraging.

Taranaki 21-year-old Zac Reid was the other New Zealander in action tonight, in the 400m freestyle heats, but was unable to progress to the final.

Reid, whose entry time was 3min 47.74s, managed just 3min 49.85s for sixth place in his heat. He began swiftly, but was unable to hang on to the pace and eventually finished 23rd fastest overall of the 36 starters in the 400m freestyle. The fastest qualifier was Germany Henning Muhlleitner with 3min 43.67s.

Reid was unable to put his finger on what had gone wrong: “I was in a good head space before the race, but that swim wasn’t what I was aiming for. It was a pretty hard race, but if I’d swum my best I’d have been up there. I just didn’t click.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games Lewis Clareburt Swimming
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