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Gaz's Commonwealth Games Diary - Competition Day Two

2022 Commonwealth Games Diary by Gary Francis "Gaz" - Competition Day Two

Competition Day Two

Hi Everyone

After the big highs of yesterday the challenge was always going to be whether the athletes could again rise to the occasion and deliver. The morning started very subdued, Cam Gray posting 1:50.35 for his 200m freestyle, an event he still has much to learn about. Hazel Ouwehand could only manage 1:03.86 in the 100m backstroke but it was enough to give her a semi-final place, qualifying 14th. Her semi-final swim later that evening was slightly slower and gave her a 15th placing overall, but she will benefit from the experience of a first semi-final at this level.

The event we had all been waiting for was the men’s 400IM and Lewis. Could he back-up the incredible training performances we had all witnessed while on camp in Mallorca? Well, the first heat was swum so slowly that Lewis didn’t need to expend much energy in his heat to qualify fastest in 4:17.72. Sometimes swimming so slowly in a heat means an athlete cannot make the connections with what they will need to improve upon to achieve their targets in the final as they have little to gauge what amount of extra effort or technical improvement is needed. But there wasn’t that feeling following Lewis’s swim. Even compared to the Olympic Bronze medallist, Brendon Smith (Australia), and Commonwealth record holder, Duncan Scott (Scotland), Lewis’s swim just looked so much easier and controlled.

The evening finals not only included Hazel and Lewis but also Cameron Gray in the 50m Butterfly and Andrew Jeffcoat in the 100m Backstroke, both having qualified the night before. Cameron was the first race of the night and Andrew near the back of the programme at almost 9pm. Another part of the athlete education at this level is working out your ‘time-line’- when to get to the pool and when to warm-up, get your race suit on, go to the call-room etc. Racing late in the programme is always a hard one to judge right as sometimes the event doesn’t stay on schedule, or warm-up pools can get busy with relay swimmers, for example.

As the first event of the night Cameron could plan his preparation very accurately and get to warm-up in the competition pool. As a young athlete in his first major final this was a big help. His instructions were very straightforward – win the start, win the finish, let everything else take care of itself and enjoy the moment! He is a very laid-back character and he seems to take everything in his stride. He showed very little in the way of nerves as I escorted him to the call room and was certainly seeming to enjoy the experience. He enjoyed it a whole lot more after touching the wall and realising he had won a bronze medal in a new, New Zealand record of 23.27 seconds! A truly great swim from a very young and inexperienced swimmer!

Our whole team, athletes and staff were so energised by Cameron’s swim that it was impossible to not keep the excitement from Lewis and Andrew who were preparing for their finals later in the evening. Lewis seemed to use it as fuel and he took time to congratulate and share a few moments with the media with Cameron as he returned from his warm-up! Normally I would be really concerned about the interference with a crucial preparation but it just seemed to lift him and add to his confidence. Lewis’s actual swim was one of the finest performances ever by a New Zealand swimmer and all of us who witnessed it were very privileged to be there. He destroyed the field right from the start and his time of 4:08.70 is not only a New Zealand record but a Commonwealth Games record, an Oceania record and a Commonwealth record. Huge credit must also be given to Gary Hollywood, Lewis’s coach. The preparation over the last month in Mallorca has been a pleasure to witness as they worked on every detail of the race. Gary predicted 4:08 and there was never any doubt that he would be right!

Andrew had the hardest task of the night. Not only was he late in the racing programme which required a very tough preparation, but he had to follow the incredible performances of Lewis and Cameron. Starting in lane three his tactics were to get to the 50m wall first or right alongside the South African favourite and put him under pressure in the UW phase of the turn and then bring the swim home as strong as possible. He started well and turned 2nd, just behind the South African. But Andrew was also pressured by the swimmer outside him and could not quite hold on to a top three spot, sliding to 4th in 54.13. This was still a very solid performance from heat to semi to final for Andrew – his first major final, and the disappointment of missing the medal will only act as extra incentive for the next time, which will hopefully come in a couple of days’ time in his favoured 50m backstroke.

Another great night for us, and now we have to re-ground the team for day 3 when nine of our team race, several in their key events. We will be referring to day 3 as ‘Day 1’, which we do every day! It’s always the start of the meet, every time the sun comes up we are starting again until we finish!

Day 2 finals results:

  • Cameron 50 Butterfly 23.27 Bronze, PB and NZ Record

  • Hazel 100 Back 1:04.10 15th place

  • Lewis 400 IM 4:08.70 Gold, PB, NZ record, Oceania Record, Commonwealth Games Record and Commonwealth Record

  • Andrew 100 Back 54.13 4th place

Day Three Athlete Heat Schedule

Lewis Clareburt

Mens 200m Butterfly Heat Sunday 31st June - 9:30pm

Andrew Jeffcoat

Mens 50m Backstroke Heat Sunday 31st June - 9:51pm

Cameron Gray

Mens 50m Backstroke Heat Sunday 31st June - 9:51pm

Hazel Ouwehand

Womens 50m Butterfly Heat Sunday 31st June - 10:03pm

Helena Gasson

Womens 50m Butterfly Heat Sunday 31st June - 10:03pm

Cameron Gray

Mens 100m Freestyle Heat Sunday 31st June - 10:18pm

Watch Live

All of the heats and finals sessions are available to watch live via Sky Sport:

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