Swimmer Lewis Clareburt is back to reality after his sensational effort in the 400m individual medley saw him win a surprise bronze medal for New Zealand in the pool.

Clareburt has returned to his hometown of Wellington, where he’s in the first year of a commerce degree and has four weeks of study to catch up on.

“For one of my uni papers it was really hard to get an extension, I don’t think they quite understood that I was competing at the Commonwealth Games but now they’re all good with everything,” said Clareburt.

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Above: Clareburt competing at Gold Coast 2018

The 18 year old went straight from the Games to the Swimming New Zealand National age-group championships in Auckland last week. That’s where the reality of his win started to set in.

“It was pretty crazy, people were coming up and asking for photos and signatures so it was definitely different, going from being just one of those swimmers to being asked for a photo.

“I had a great time though and it was cool to see some young kids looking up to me and hopefully I’ve inspired them.”

Clareburt, who last year won seven medals for New Zealand at the Commonwealth Youth Games, has several further swim meets this year, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games the big goal.

“That bronze has motivated me and has given me the opportunity to succeed further than I already have. Next for me is the NZ Open Championships in July and then the PanPacifics.

“The Commonwealth Games was part of the plan and Tokyo is the main target so that’s where I want to be heading.”

Clareburt has chosen a non-traditional road to success. Most high performance New Zealand swimmers accept US college scholarships, however Clareburt decided he would rather stay in his hometown.

“For me it was all about showing that you can do what you want in New Zealand without having to go overseas.

“I wanted to show that we can achieve on the world stage with the resources we have here, so I think doing it in New Zealand from Wellington shows that any Kiwi can do this.”

Commonwealth Games Lewis Clareburt
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