New Zealand’s 16-Year-Old Erika Fairweather Qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics In 400m Freestyle

erika fairweather archive image via swimming NZ
TOKYO HERE I COME: Erika Fairweather is the second youngest New Zealand Olympian at 16. Photo Courtesy: Swimming New Zealand.

New Zealand’s 16-Year-Old Erika Fairweather Qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics In 400m Freestyle

By Dave Crampton

World Junior champion Erika Fairweather, 16, is the third New Zealander to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in an individual event.

She became the second youngest swimmer from her country to qualify for an Olympics in a swimming event, after Commonwealth Games champion Rebecca Perrott swam at the 1976 Montreal Olympics aged 15, and was New Zealand’s youngest Olympic athlete.

Erika Fairweather (800m free) in action during the Swimming New Zealand Short Course Championships,Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre, Auckland, New Zealand, Friday 6 October 2017. Photo: Simon Watts/www.bwmedia.co.nz

STROKED: Erika Fairweather is eye-balling Tokyo in the 400m freestyle. Photo Courtesy: Simon Watts.

Fairweather clocked a personal best time of 4:07.43 in the 400m freestyle, under the Olympic qualifying time of 4:07.90. Her time was well under a second faster than her fourth placing at the World Junior Championships in Hungary where she swam 4:08.78. Only Australia’s Lani Pallister swam faster at World Juniors than Fairweather’s latest effort, doing so in a championships record of 4:05.42.

Fairweather, along with some of New Zealand’s top swimmers, have been swimming at the Auckland Open championships, which doubles as an Olympic trials.

Fairweather also swam the 200m freestyle in 1:57.38, but while it was faster than her winning time at the World Junior championships, when she clocked 1:57.96,  it was just 0.10 sec short of the Olympic standard  of  1:57.28.

New Zealand has qualified a women’s team for Tokyo in the 4x200m freestyle after being ranked 10th at the World Championships in Gwangju.

lewis-clareburt-

KIWI CLAIM: New Zealand’s 2019 World Championship bronze medallist Lewis Clareburt who also secured a Tokyo Olympic berth in the 400IM. Photo Courtesy Jo Kleindl

At Gwangju, Lewis Clareburt qualified for the 400m IM after his bronze medal performance and Ali Galyer also qualified in the 100m backstroke.

Both are not swimming at this week’s Trials nor is Helena Gasson who recently broke 11 New Zealand Open SC records at the International Swimming League with the New York Breakers.

Fairweather’s  200m time at Trials was close to six seconds ahead of Laura Littlejohn, 16,  and her 400m time was nearly 18 seconds ahead of second placed Ruby Heath, 21.  She has the 100m event to follow.

New Zealand has a broad Olympic qualifying criteria, with swimmers able to qualify at any FINA approved events prior to 31 May 2021.