19 May 2021

Olympic swimmer forced to share lanes with public

5:25 am on 19 May 2021

A lack of pools in Wellington has forced Olympic hopeful Lewis Clareburt to train in public lanes in his buildup to the Tokyo Games.

Lewis Clareburt, Wellington and New Zealand swimmer.

Lewis Clareburt Photo: PHOTOSPORT

With one of the pools in the region out of action the council is struggling to accommodate all those wanting to use the remaining facilities.

That includes Clareburt who has been forced to have some of his sessions in lanes with the public.

The 21 year old won a bronze medal in the 400 medley at the 2019 World Championships and after taking two seconds off his own national record at the National Championships last month has shot into Olympic medal contention.

Clareburt is currently in a big aerobic phase of his training doing lots of lengths to build up stamina.

However that has been far from ideal with his camp receiving an e-mail from the Wellington City Council saying that five of his sessions over the next couple of weeks have been cancelled because they can't get in the pool.

"This is probably going to be the hardest preparation for the Olympics purely for the fact that we're struggling to get pool time," says Clareburt.

"It sucks because we're trying to build up to the pinnacle event of the year and we can't even get proper pool time."

Clareburt says the council has been able to make some alternate arrangements for them, but it's not always possible.

He's part of the Capital Swim Club and does most of his training at the Freyberg Pool, but does also train at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre in Kilbirnie.

He says Kilbirnie has so many events on that it's extremely difficult to get lanes there.

New Zealand swimmer Lewis Clareburt.

Lewis Clareburt Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Clareburt says the situation isn't ideal for him or the public.

"We look like we're going quite slow and so people will jump into the lane and the biggest thing is that I'm going quite fast and so it's actually quite dangerous for a member of the public to be in the lane."

"If I hit someone's arm or something (that person) is probably going to come off worse than me."

Clareburt says he can generally put up with it because it's only a small percentage of his 10 pool sessions a week that are affected, however it could be better.

"If you're trying to be the best in the world, like I am, you want to make sure you're consistently having every single training with the best resources and when you can't do that it sucks as it's something you can't control."

Clareburt's time at last month's nationals ranks him number two in the world this year behind Daiya Seto of Japan and he could become New Zealand's first Olympic medalist since Danyon Loader in 1996.

He has also qualified for the 200 medley.

New Zealand has five swimmers qualified for the Olympics with the team to be confirmed next month.