On Wednesday 29th March, the Wellingtonian of the Year Awards event took place at the Embassy Theatre. An evening which celebrated achievements and contributions across all sectors of the greater Wellington community, awarding those who make the Wellington region the exciting and vibrant place it is. Amongst a star-studded line-up, it was Lewis Clareburt who took out the “Welly” in the Sport category. Lewis’ award-winning streak continued in the week following when he picked up THREE Swimming New Zealand awards, which were presented in Auckland at the 2023 New Zealand Championships. His first award was the Billie Fitzsimmons Cup, also known as “International Swimmer of the Year”. Lewis received this award for his two gold and one bronze medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, as well as for his bedazzling Commonwealth, Oceania & New Zealand Record-breaking performance in the 400m Individual Medley. For his performance in the 400m Individual Medley, he was also awarded the “Closest to World Record” award. Lewis’ third award was taking out the Baxter O'Neill Trophy as the Supreme Swimmer of the Year for the fourth consecutive time. This was awarded following his world class performances at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, as well as his promotion of the sport and his leadership. Lewis didn’t let his award collection interfere with his racing, as he was on fine form throughout the 2023 New Zealand Championships – picking up two World Aquatics Championships qualifying times alongside several national titles.
Sam Brown has constantly been knocking at the door of receiving that elusive Aquablack number. Although he has missed out, he has still granted himself opportunity able to represent our country on the international stage. Last year, he was selected for the Mare Nostrum tour – a tour which saw him travel around Europe racing the world’s best. While in Auckland with his Capital teammates, Sam swam his way to qualify for the 2023 US Tour team. This will be an experience that will feed more fuel to the flame in the continuation of that hunt for his first senior national team selection.
Finn Harland has jumped leaps and bounds ever since his move from Pirates Swim Team to Capital Swim Club. After representing New Zealand at the 2022 Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawai’i, his confidence has only continued to grow. At the recent New Zealand Championships, he broke two regional records, one national record and made his qualifying time for the 2023 World Junior Championships, which is set to be held in Israel later this year.
Gary Hollywood, Capital Swim Club and New Zealand Team Coach for the World Aquatics Champs, says that the three have had their fair share of challenges, then showing pride in his swimmers’ ability to show up at the right moment. He said, “Lewis, Sam and Finn were able to rise to the occasion at the New Zealand Championships, proving once again that the Capital Swim Club remain focused on providing its’ swimmers with the coaching expertise to explore their full potential. Lewis will represent his country once again at this year’s World Championships in the 400 & 200 IM, in addition to the Fly leg of the Mens 4x100 Medley relay. Finn broke Daniel Bell’s long standing NZ record in the 50m Backstroke and will represent his country at the Junior World Championships in the 50, 100 & 200 Backstroke. Sam Brown set many personal best times, coming away with two bronze medals, two silver medals and a gold. Sam was selected to represent his country once again, this time on a trip to the United States. Sam’s achievements are particularly poignant as he is part of the generation who were most impacted by COVID, missing out on Junior Pan Pacs, Junior Worlds, as well as the World University Games.” Gary was thrilled to see Capital Swim Club finish as the top Wellington swimming club; coming in 5th out of 33 Clubs represented at the national championships. Swimming NZ have now established a Senior Performance Programme in Wellington, seconding the services of newly announced International Coach of the year, Gary Hollywood.