Erika Fairweather Downs NAG Record, Clareburt Tops 400 IM at Day 2 of NZ Champs

Lewis Clareburt. AON Swimming New Zealand National Open Swimming Championships, National Aquatic Centre, Auckland, New Zealand, Monday 2nd July 2018. Photo: Simon Watts/
Photo Courtesy: Simon Watts/

By Dave Crampton, Swimming World Contributor. 

New Pan Pacific qualifying times appeared to be elusive on day two of the AON NZ Open Championships in Auckland.

In fact, most were nowhere near them. The only one who measured up did so untapered.
Breaststroker Julian Layton came the closest to adding his name to the New Zealand roster, clocking
2:11.55 for a 200m personal best time – and screwed up his face when he looked at the clock, as
while his time was a personal best, it was within half a second shy of the qualifying time.
It was fairly close, but not close enough.

However, Lewis Clareburt – who is not on a taper – has already met the 400m IM Pan Pacific
qualifying time when he swam 4:14.42 for third at the Commonwealth Games. At these open
championships, he comfortably went under the 4:17.90 time again, clocking 4:17.52 – nearly a
quarter of a minute ahead of the field. He is using this meet to prepare for the Pan Pacific championships in Tokyo next month, and to transfer some of the skills he was worked on with his coach Gary Hollywood into some qualify racing.

“For me, it’s just to get some good race training,” he said. “I just wanted to get good times. I don’t
have much opportunity to race at all.”

But every time he does, he does well.

“I pushed the whole race – I`m trying to go as fast as I can without taper… and even split the 50s. I`ve
also been trying to work on my turn time, and was trying to build the second half of the race,” he

However, while Clareburt did not enter the 200m freestyle, he is leading off the 4×800 freestyle relay
for his Capital Swim club later in the week and is looking to improve two thirds of a second to go
under the qualifying Pan Pacific time.

As Clareburt has already qualified for Japan – coach Hollywood will be there with him – he can elect
to swim that event, and so while the pressure is off, the desire for some hard racing remains.
“I am trying to go with the flow now – and work as hard as I can.”

The 200m freestyle was won by Carina Doyle, the sole New Zealand woman to make a
Commonwealth Games final after qualifying for selection through the relays. She clocked 2:00.27
with 14-year-old Erika Fairweather in second place.

It was no surprise to see Fairweather come in second. She has had a good first championship so far,
with two top four placings and two Junior Pan Pacific times in her first two events. She also swam a
National Age Group record in the 200m freestyle, clocking 2:02.56, just 11 seconds shy of the NAG
for a 15-year-old.

In the 200m heats, Chelsey Edwards, 17, also in her first NZ Open championships, qualified for the
Junior Pan Pacific championships, knocking 1.3 seconds off her time, with her favoured 100m and
50m freestyle events to follow later in the week. She is seeded top three in both with her 50m seed
time slightly under the qualifying standard.

“I’m really relieved- it’s my first (200m) personal best in two years – and I got it both times ( in heats
as well as finals),” she said.

“I am just trying to get the (100m and 50m) times for Junior Pan Pacs so If I get those I`ll be
extremely happy.”

The men’s event was won by Zac Reid in an incredibly slow 1:50.35, the first time in at least six years
it has been won in a slower time than 1:49.00. That time would have only just medalled in the B final
at the Australian Pan Pacific trials also being held this week.

Reid’s time was also a Junior Pan Pacific time. Others to get Junior Pan Pacific times included
freestylers Amandika Atkinson, and Hannah Bates in 50m butterfly – an event won by Vanessa
Ouwehand in 1:01.13, after winning the 50m butterfly the previous night.

It was a dead heat in the men’s 100m butterfly with both Willrich Coetzee and Ben Carr finishing in

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