Tokyo Olympics: NZ swimmer Lewis Clareburt faces stark reality of lockdown training

Lewis Clareburt is having to face up to a brutal new reality, as the Welligton swimmer prepares to completely rebuild his training in the pool.

Clareburt couldn't train for almost two months while the country was under alert levels three and four and that has seen him go backwards.

After six weeks in the swimming wilderness, Clareburt is ready to dive headfirst into training, though he admits not having swum for six weeks has definitely taken its toll.

"The first one was definitely pretty dusty," Clareburt tells Newshub. "It was pretty rough."

The COVID-19 lockdown was the first time in more than four years that Clareburt had had more than ten days off swimming, and the 20-year-old is feeling the effects of the prolonged absence. 

"I did a timed 100 metre freestyle this morning and I was probably 10 seconds over my personal best, "Clareburt reveals. 

"So, it's a pretty big set back and I'm not sure how many months it's gonna take me to get back."

Most of the progress Clareburt's made over the last few years is gone in a matter of weeks.

"I'm having to start from the bottom again."

Swimming is not like other sports, in that there is no substitute for time in the water.

Six weeks in lockdown meant Clareburt's training was virtually non-existent.

"I feel like we've definitely been hit the worst in terms of our sport," says Clareburt. 

"Obviously the cyclists and stuff can still do their sport, but we've just been shut out completely. There is nothing like swimming at all."

But there's hope on the horizon.

While no competitions are planned for the near future, Clareburt has already qualified for next year's Olympics, after storming to bronze at last year's world champs.

He'll need all of the 14 months until Tokyo to get himself back to a level worthy of sport's greatest stage.

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