Kiwi Lewis Clareburt Clocks Stunning 400IM of 4:09.87 – The Second Fastest Time for 2021 Behind Daiya Seto

Lewis Clareburt, 400m IM NZ record during Session 3 of the AON New Zealand Swimming Champs, National Aquatic Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. Tuesday 6 April 2021 Photo: Simon Watts/
WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: Kiwi Lewis Clareburt has plenty to smile about after his 400IM time of 4:09.84 in Auckland tonight. Photo Courtesy: Simon Watts (Swimming NZ). 1.

Wellington’s Lewis Clareburt has tonight smashed his own National record in a stunning Tokyo trial at the 2021 Aon New Zealand Swimming Championships at Auckland’s Sir Owen Glenn National Aquatic Centre.

The 21-year-old 2019 World Championship bronze medallist clocked the second fastest time in the world this year with his 4:09.87 – taking a whopping 2.20secs off his previous best and his own NZ National record – set in Gwangju two years ago.

Only Japan’s 26-year-old three-time World Champion and Rio bronze medallist Daiya Seto has swum faster o far in 2020, clocking 4:09.02, swum last week at the Japanese Olympic Trials at the Tokyo Olympic Aquatic Centre.

In one of the most outstanding swims seen at a New Zealand National Championships in recent times, Clareburt (Capital Swim Club) becomes the 13th fastest 400IMer in history and here is a look at his splits – butterfly – 56.57; backstroke – 64.04; breaststroke – 1.11.35; freestyle – 57.88 for his Overall time of 4:09.87.

Lewis Clareburt, 400m IM. Swimming New Zealand Aon National Open Championships, National Aquatic Centre, New Zealand,Monday 17 Junel 2019. Photo: Simon Watts/

ON THE FLY: Lewis Clareburt shows the style that has him in the podium hunt in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Simon Watts (Swimming NZ).

It was one way traffic up front with Clareburt storming through his breaststroke leg in 1:11.35 – and splitting 28.84 for his final 50m in the freestyle to beat Luan Grobbelaar (Neptune Swim Club) 4;18.90 and his Capital Swim Club teenage club mate Sam Brown who was third in 4:24.55

It was a swim that even his coach Gary Hollywood wasn’t expecting after his 4:16.86 morning heat swim with his astute coach thinking he would have to really improve in the middle of the race saying his heat swim was “quite ordinary.”

“But he has the ability to bring out the big ones when he needs to,” said Hollywood, who told his charge that it was a perfect opportunity to post a time that would put him into the top six in the world – traditionally where the medallists come from leading into an Olympic Games.

This performance certainly puts the improving Kiwi very much in the hunt for a medal in Tokyo.

The Kiwis have not won an individual medal in the Olympic pool since Danyon Loader (Gold and silver) in Atlanta in 1996 in the 400 and 200m freestyle respectively – and never in the 400IM.

 Here  are the top 12 swimmers in history ranked ahead of Clareburt as he now prepares to bring home the Kiwis a rare medal from the pool.


  1. 4:03.84 Michael Phelps (USA)
  2. 4:05.18 Ryan Lochte (USA)
  3. 4:05.90 Chase Kalisz (USA)
  4. 4:06.05 Kosuke Hagino (JPN)
  5. 4:06.09 Daiya Seto (JPN)
  6. 4:06.16 Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 6:06.16
  7. 4:06.96 Tyler Clary (USA)
  8. 4:07.47 David Verraszto (HUN)
  9. 4:08.86 Thiago Pereira (BRA)
  10. 4:09.10 Wang Shun (CHN)
  11. 4:09.22 Jay Litherland (USA)
  12. 4:09.62 Max Litchfield (GBR)

Other winners on the night included:

Helen Glasson (Coast Swimming Club) – Women’s 100m backstroke (1:00.81)

Andrew Jeffcoat (Pukekohe) Men’s 100m backstroke (54.89)

Georgina McCarthy (Hamilton Aquatics) – Women’s 400IM (4:47.19 NZ 18 Years Record)

George Williams (Coast Swimming Club) Men’s 50m freestyle 22.99 and;

Laura Littlejohn (St Pauls) Women’s 50m freestyle 25.59

Clareburt is one of  four NZ swimmers who had already made the qualification time for the 2021 Olympics, and is one of three who are racing at NZ Champs along with  Erika Fairweather and Zac Reid).

The fourth, Ali Galyer (Coast)  is currently in the US, so will not be present. Ali came back to New Zealand in 2019 for Opens and qualified for the 18th FINA World Championships along with Fairweather, Reid and Clareburt.

Galyer and Clareburt met the Olympic Qualification Time at this competition and Lewis took home the Bronze medal in the Men’s 400m Individual Medley, as well as breaking the NZ Open record, which currently still stands (4:12.07 seconds).

Also at World Championships, The women’s 4x200m freestyle Relay made the top 12 required for relay quota at the 2021 Olympics. Our top female Freestyle swimmers will be battling it out to take the four spots of the relay team.

Reid, in the Tokyo leg of the 2019 FINA World Cup, took the silver medal in the men’s 400m freestyle.

The Aquabladz swimmer swam under the Olympic Qualification Time at the 2020 ASA Open Championships in December last year. Reid swam a time of 7:53.50 seconds in the men’s 800m Freestyle event, also breaking the NZ Open record and shaving 3.9 seconds off his previous personal best.

Reid won the 800m on the opening night and is also  top seed for the 400m freestyle while Clareburt, is top seed in three more events, the men’s 200m and 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly.


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