Tokyo Olympics: Breaking 24-year drought a motivator for Kiwi swimming medal prospect Lewis Clareburt

Kiwi swimmer Lewis Clareburt has his eye set on one thing - an Olympic gold medal.

The 21-year-old will compete at the short-course nationals in Hamilton this week, before heading to Europe to prepare for Tokyo 2021, as the Kiwi looks to break a 24-year hoodoo. 

Under the watchful eye of coach Gary Holywood, Clareburt is confident of a great result heading into the first serious competition since COVID-19 shut down the sport. 

"We want to have some fun and see some gains that I might have made over the past couple of months," Clareburt tells Newshub.

The meet marks the start of a busy couple of months for Clareburt, as he heads to a professional swimming league in Hungary, alongside several elite swimmers.

"I think 90 percent of the people that are going are either world recordholders or Olympic gold medalists, so I'll be training and racing alongside them." 

Clareburt has already qualified for the 400 metres individual medley and the Hamilton event marks the start of his Olympic build-up.

"It's super nice knowing that either way, I'll be going to Tokyo," he says. "I've already got my one event that I need to do, but we've got two, maybe three other events to try and nail a good time."

And with the Olympics pushed out a year, time is on his side, as he tries to break a 24-year medal drought for Kiwis in the pool.

Not since Danyon Loader's gold medal swim in 1996 has the Silver Fern stood on the dais. 

"It gives me goosebumps when I think about it," says Clareburt. "I would love to be the next [NZ] medallist.

"It would be pretty surreal to get myself on the podium."

And after bronze-medal swims at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 world championships, Tokyo may just be his turn on the sport's biggest stage.  

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