July 23rd marked the first day of the World Aquatics World Swimming Championships held in Fukuoka, Japan. Swimming Wellington had two young men representing the region at the event which is the pinnacle of our sport (bar the Olympic Games). Reigning Commonwealth champion, Lewis Clareburt, as well as Samoan sprinter, Kokoro Frost, had a great week of racing in Japan.
Frost was the first of the Wellington pair to get off the blocks on day one of swimming in Fukuoka. Dropping just under half a second from his own Samoan national record, he finished third in his 50m Butterfly heat.
Clareburt kickstarted his Worlds campaign by securing a place in the Mens’ 400m Individual Medley final after posting up time of 4:12.85. Whit this time, he was seeded eighth into the final. A gutsy finals performance, in a well and truly stacked field, saw him finish sixth in the world later that night!
A further highlight of the day one was Erika Fairweather’s bronze medal swim in the 400m Freestyle. With her swim, she cemented her place among swimming royalty and is now the fifth fastest woman in history in this event. What a day for our sport in Aotearoa!
Lewis’ other standout performances came later on in the week in the 200m Butterfly and Individual Medley. In the 200m Butterfly, Lewis swam the second fastest time of his career to finish 13th in the world! In his 200m Individual Medley later in the week, Lewis swam his way to a 12th place finish! For his individual races, he finished with the 100m Butterfly, but was a key member in the New Zealand team’s relays.
Kokoro’s anchor leg in Samoa’s 4x100m Mixed Freestyle relay, on the second to last day of racing, proved to aid in their efforts as they dropped three seconds from the national record (set at the 2022 Commonwealth Games)
It was amazing to see Lewis and Kokoro in action in Japan. We are looking forward to whatever is next on the horizon for our two representatives and wish them safe travels back to Wellington.
Images courtesy of Swimming New Zealand (Website) and Wade Brennan (Instagram).