Day One Wrap - 2023 Northern Arena Invitational
Competing in his new home of Tāmaki Makaurau Olympian Lewis Clareburt showed his pedigree on day one of World Championship Trials in Auckland.
272 swimmers are competing at the trials as they chase a spot in the Aquablacks squad for the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha.
Despite having already qualified for Doha, Clareburt (Club 37) was all class in the 400m individual medley, powering ahead of the pack to finish in 4:15.13s, more than 2-seconds under the 2024 World Championships qualification mark.
“I said to myself coming into this meet that if I go anywhere near under the qualifying time I’d be happy. It’s been a tiring few weeks so I feel like that’s a good time for me right now,” said Clareburt.
Eve Thomas (Coast) and Caitlin Deans (Neptune & Swim Dunedin) were the other standout performers, both swimming under the Doha qualification time in a fast 400m freestyle race.
Thomas and Deans were a cut above from start to finish, clocking 4:07.90s and 4:10.42s respectively.
“I’ve come into this competition off some really intense pieces of work and haven’t been doing anything particularly specific to prepare,” said Thomas.
“That’s the second fastest time I’ve ever done so I’m pretty stoked with that.”
In the Para swimming Asher Smith-Franklin (North Shore) continued to improve, setting a New Zealand S14 record in the 100m butterfly of 1:00.24s.
“I felt really good out there,” said the 17-year-old. “I’m really pleased with the improvements and constantly inching closer to Paralympic qualification which is awesome.”
It was a case of almost but not quite in the rest of the day’s racing.
In the men’s 100m butterfly Cameron Gray (Coast) finished just outside world championships qualification time in 53.02s. It was a similar story in the women’s 100 butterfly where Hazel Ouwehand (Phoenix) led from start to finish, clocking a time of 58.94s, an agonising half a second out from the world championships qualification time.
Kane Follows was then in action in the 200m backstroke, the Neptune and Swim Dunedin swimmer posting a time of 1:58.99s to miss qualification by less than a second.
Olympian Zac Reid (Neptune and Swim Dunedin) then went close in the men’s 400m freestyle, swimming a brilliant second 200m to finish less than a second outside the qualification mark in a time of 3:48.92s.
Day two of competition will see Erika Fairweather’s only event of the weekend as she works to help qualify a Women’s 4 x 200m freestyle team. Eve Thomas, Caitlin Deans and Summer Osborne (North Shore) will be looking to retain their spot on the team, with Laticia-Leigh Transom (Ice Breaker Aquatics) looking to cause an upset.
The Men’s 50m Freestyle will also be a fast one, with Cameron Gray and Carter Swift (Club 37) going head-to-head in a battle of the sprinters.
Gabi Fa’amausili (Club 37) will be hoping to return to the national team in the Women’s 50m Backstroke, heading in as the fastest qualifier. She will also feature in the Women’s 50m Freestyle, with Coast teammates Chelsey Edwards and Zoe Pedersen the fastest seeds.
Five swimmers have already achieved qualification for Doha, following their performances earlier this year at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka. They are Lewis Clareburt (Club 37), Erika Fairweather (Neptune & Swim Dunedin), Andrew Jeffcoat (Club 37), Caitlin Deans (Neptune & Swim Dunedin) and Cameron Gray (Coast), with all except Andrew Jeffcoat competing this weekend.