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Clareburt, Thomas and Deans hit World Championships qualification mark


Lewis Clareburt at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year.
Photo: Photosport

Competing in his new home of Tāmaki Makaurau, Olympian Lewis Clareburt showed his pedigree on the first day of the World Championship Trials in Auckland.

A total of 272 swimmers are competing at the trials as they seek a place in the Aquablacks squad for the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha.

Although already qualified for Doha, Clareburt was outstanding in the 400m individual medley, driving ahead of the pack to finish in 4:15.13s, more than 2 seconds under the 2024 World Championships qualification mark.

“I told myself coming into this meeting if I get anywhere near the qualifying time I’d be happy. It’s been a tiring few weeks so it feels like a good time for me at the moment,” said Clareburt.

Eve Thomas and Caitlin Deans were the other top performers, both swimming Doha qualifying times in the fast 400m freestyle.

Thomas and Deans were slightly higher from start to finish, clocking 4:07.90 and 4:10.42 respectively.

“I’ve come into this tournament after some really hard work and I’m not doing anything special to prepare,” said Thomas.

“That’s the second fastest time I’ve ever done so I’m pretty stoked with that.”

In Para swimming Asher Smith-Franklin continued to improve, setting the New Zealand S14 record in the 100m butterfly of 1:00.24s, inching closer to Paralympic qualification.

It was almost but not quite the case in the rest of the day’s racing.

In the men’s 100m butterfly Cameron Gray finished just outside the world championship qualifying time in 53.02s.

It was a similar story in the women’s 100m butterfly, where Hazel Ouwehand led from start to finish, clocking 58.94s, a staggering half a second off the world championship qualifying time.

Kane Follows was then in action in the 200m backstroke, posting a time of 1:58.99s to miss out on qualifying by less than a second.

Olympian Zac Reid then went close in the men’s 400m freestyle, swimming an impressive second 200m to finish less than a second outside the qualification mark in a time of 3:48.92s.

The second day of competition will be Erika Fairweather’s only event of the weekend as she works to help the Women’s 4 x 200m freestyle team qualify.

The Men’s 50m Freestyle will also be a fast one, with Cameron Gray and Carter Swift leading the battle of the sprinters.

Gabi Fa’amausili will be hoping to return to the national team in the Women’s 50m Backstroke, entering as the fastest qualifier.

Five swimmers have already qualified for Doha, following their performances earlier this year at the 2023 World Aquatic Championships in Fukuoka.

Competing this weekend are Lewis Clareburt, Erika Fairweather, Andrew Jeffcoat, Caitlin Deans and Cameron Gray, all but Jeffcoat.

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